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   Singer Pur / featuring The Hilliard Ensemble: Rihm / Sciarrino / Moody / Metcalf
Composer: Various
Price: 9.99 €
Cat-Nr.: OC 354
Format: CD
1 Copies in stock. Possible shipping date for Germany: 04.03.2015

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This a-cappella ensemble (formed from former “Regensburger Domspatzen” plus a soprano) has been awarded the “Grand Prix for Vocal Music” at the “Tampere Music festival” in Finland and the First Prize at the “German Music Competition”. Their concert series “The Hilliard Ensemble meets Singer Pur“ was sensational! On this CD they pre miere contemporary works, supported by the Hilliard Ensemble.

A-cappella-Formation aus ehemaligen Regensburger Domspatzen plus eine Sopranistin, beim „Tampere-Musikfestival“ in Finnland mit dem „Grand Prix für Vokalmusik“ ausgezeichnet und 1. Preis des „Deutschen Musikwettbewerbs“, hat mit der Konzertreihe „The Hilliard Ensemble meets Singer Pur“ großes Aufsehen erregt! Auf dieser CD, unterstützt durch das Hilliard Ensemble, kommen zeitgenössische Kompositionen zur Uraufführung.

The Composers

Wolfgang Rihm Wolfgang Rihm was born in Karlsruhe in 1952 and has remained in that city ever since. He studied piano and composition with Eugen Werner Velte at the Karlsruhe Conservatory, where he himself has taught since 1972. He was appointed professor in 1985. Rihm is considered to be one of the most significant composers of our era. His works now number over 150; many of these are for music theater, many others for orchestra, and he has written vocal and chamber music as well. In 2003 he was honoured with the international Ernst-von- Siemens Music Prize. Once asked what he intends with his music, Wolfgang Rihm answered, “To move and be moved.” Ivan Moody, born in London in 1964, studied with Brian Dennis as well as Sir John Tavener. The liturgy of the orthodox church has played a major influence in his work. Many of his compositions are related to liturgical themes. Moody has received numerous commissions from internationally known ensembles and contributed to the newest editions of international music encyclopedias with musicological essays as well.

Salvatore Sciarrino was born in Palermo in 1947 and began to occupy himself with the fine arts during his childhood. He began teaching himself composition when he was twelve, later studying with Antonio Titone and later, Turi Belfiore. His works have been honoured with numerous awards. He taught at the conservatories in Milan and Perugia, where he currently lives. Today, he teaches at the conservatory in Florence. Sciarrino has always incorporated new sounds into his compositions, but the relationship between sound and silence has begun to play an increasingly significant role for him. This has made his music particularly transparent. His means of musical expression, which are exceptionally concentrated and full of nuance, reflect the current times.

American composer Joanne Metcalfwas born in 1958. Her composition teachers have included Louis Andriessen (Netherlands), one of Luciano Berio’s most renowned and successful students. Today, she is a professor at the Lawrence Conservatory in Appleton, Wisconsin. Numerous artists from Europe and the USA have commissioned her to write works for them. Her choral work Music for the Star of the Sea won the Hilliard Composition Prize in 1994. She composed Il nome del bel fior, which uses a text from Dante’s “Paradiso”, for the Hilliard Ensemble and Singer Pur in 1998. ( (

Notes on this recording:

Contemporary music has played a major role in the repertoire of Singer Pur since the group’s inception. Because a number of composers have asked us in recent years if they could write compositions for our ensemble, we have now decided to dedicate a recording to these new pieces. All works on this recording were commissioned by Singer Pur. Wolfgang Rihm and Salvatore Sciarrino composed their Passiontide motets to be a musical focal point of Holy Week 2001 at the Basilica dei SS. XII Apostoli in Rome with generous support from the Siemens Arts Program.

Singer Pur has maintained a close friendship with composer Ivan Moody since 1994. With her epic cycle Il nome del bel fior, American composer Joanne Metcalf has paid musical tribute to our long years of cooperation with the British Hilliard Ensemble. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all composers who have composed for us (and who may do so in the future)!

“La circulata melodia” – the image of circular motion which Dante used in his epic “Paradiso” – is not only musically perceptible in Joanne Metcalf’s composition. The other compositions on this recording also feature repeating melodic turns of phrase and repetitive moments. The picture on our cover portrays the “Ouroboros”, an ancient symbol used by many cultures (including Christian culture). The snake biting its own tail stands for wholeness, dying and becoming, life and death, and finally, for overcoming death. (kw)

Wolfgang Rihm
Subdued Glory Passiontide motets (I–IV)

An eternal longing for the primary colours of sound prevails, despite all attempts to conceal. Sketched by splinters buried in old masks, a large, tender countenance appears, capable of profound dreams and with immense wisdom. Its audible prey was always the injured sound, the badly tuned instrument; the vox humana also convulses at the thought. Silence. Then a whisper – fleeting seconds paint an imagined scene on the Mount of Olives. A gathering of quiet voices echoing Christ. Tattered chords becoming shaky, breathing movement. Airy architecture arching from “sustinete hic” – “tarry ye here!” to the artfully impure high tones of the “turbam quae circumdabit me” – “the mob that shall surround me”. Is there any deeper meaning to being at the mercy of the crowd? Desperately diverging harmonies search for one in the “vadam immolari”. And the peace contained in farewell emerges from the next sound, “pro vobis” – “[it is done] for you”. The final paling and slow fall of C minor to B minor transforms self-sacrifice into a private mystery.

And see – we have also seen: “Ecce vidimus eum”. Restrainedly, we begin again, surging towards an intense climax. “Peccata nostra portavit”: pure fourths and fifths in the soprano voice proclaim consolation and joy. Underneath, however, thirds constantly jut up against each other, forming raw, massively swelling, wounded music.

Suddenly, one episode later, time and memory are annulled in a sequence of syllables and rests, quasi senza tempo. But light enters a narrow crack in the chamber of forgetfulness. The ear combines remnants of glittery fabric, torn to shreds and obscured by dust. “Velum templi...” – which curtain, and which temple? Thoughts about the story only resurface after a rhythmic departure coming up from the depths. We remember the trembling of the earth, the resurrection, and the humility of a thief hanging next to Jesus, whose words are heavily exhaled in a dark quartet, void of upper voices. The vision passes – only the questioning remains of a dominant seventh mark the stillness.

The fourth motet now begins as a double choir. “Tenebrae factae sunt” – “There was a darkness”. High voices begin, answered from the shadows. Lamentations of abandonment are heard far away in the distance. Contrary to the expectations of the vox magna, the composer begins a quiet, unison, wavelike movement, broken by long silences. A solo tenor slowly surfaces. The last repetition of “ut quid me dereliquisti?” is even sparer and more dissonant than the thief’s words. Once again, we hear the quartet before the musical dialog begins to stumble dramatically. The yearning for God could be translated in almost toneless abstraction; but the theatrical distance ends before the cry for the heavenly father. The planning hand does not flinch at exploiting the extremes of vocal ranges to create a drastic representation. The last prayer explodes in a fortissimo and is carried away by the wind: “Into thy hands I commend my spirit” – “spiritum meum… meum… meum…”
Michael Herrschel

Salvatore Sciarrino
Responsorio delle tenebre (2001) (a sei voci)
Responsory of the darkness (2001), for six voices

Our entire culture is based on various motives from the Passiontide ritual. The knowledge beyond the pain concerns us all: it reveals and conceals itself in a wealth of ancient images. We are talking here a powerful, extreme images which reflect the human condition.

This is why I was originally disappointed when I was commissioned to compose music for the 53rd psalm. Compared to others, it appears to be quite “polished” and general. Despite this, I accepted the challenge and decided to expose the music in order to force it to have a more intensive effect.

I wanted to write a sequence of responses, i.e. groups of voices which respond back and forth. The confrontation between modern and Gregorian chant also brings with it a reunion with the responsory tradition, which, although present during a number of musical epochs, has gone through many significant stylistic changes.

On the other hand, the discontinuity among the various forms of expression I have refined in my long years as a composer displays my intimate relationship to the sensibilities of the modern world.

The “nucleus” of the Gregorian strophe is heard once again in the modern spiritual setting, and the new strophe embodies and spreads like an echo coming from earlier, faraway centuries.

When the composition was finished, the text revealed its formal perfection to me: parallelism and symmetry, an irregular number of verses, the beginnings of an arch-form made of six components, in which the third verse takes on the role of a long keystone. It was important to me to assign a certain logic to the word – voice by voice – even if it is broken up again by the musical articulation. I am quite aware that the 53rd psalm is considered by some scholars to be a refined exercise in style. I now understand the reasons for my initial perplexity, because perfection is very close to coldness.

I have used the Vulgata, not only because I love the Latin of St. Jerome, but also to place myself squarely in the historical tradition of compositions based on this Bible.

With the exception of the closing verse, the verses are repeated in groups of three in order to weave their characteristic closed form together with the binary reciprocality of the responsory. This increases the revelation of continuity through discontinuity. The compositional scheme has the following structure:

2 1 3 5 4 6 7

I am a Sicilian on the mainland and feel like an outsider – in contrast to the characteristic orthodoxy of today’s composers.

There are two sides to my calling: on the one hand, I have the courage to offer personal solutions, on the other, I feel a certain pride in upholding a tradition which can come to life through us and in us again – thus transforming itself. I am primarily known for my instrumental inventions, but I have also formed a personal vocal style with a characteristic Mediterranean accent – an imperative instrument for the enchantment of the melodrama.

I have made friends with all musical styles and probably anticipated others. I have a clear consciousness for the timeliness which characterizes each new composition I write.

I eavesdrop on reality with both an insect’s as well as a giant’s ear, and try to reflect these within a cloud of wind and stone. These are experiences related to hearing, which would be more adequately described as ecological. When we try to approach the unapproachable, the perfect stillness, we discover our own breathing. This means that there is always a shimmer of hope in the official culture scene.

My language grows out of a naturalistic immediacy and from perception of the global; as soon as the music starts, a door opens – and we step inside.

Salvatore Sciarrino (Übersetzung aus dem Italienischen: Isabella Colliva)

Ivan Moody
Lamentation of the Virgin

Lamentation of the Virgin was written in 1995 for Singer Pur, who had already sung my music astoundingly beautifully. When they asked me for a new piece, I wrote two: one profane (Le Renard et le Buste, a setting of La Fontaine) and one sacred, the Lamentation of the Virgin. This work combines a text from the famous Benediktbeuren manuscript (the Carmina Burana collection), a very powerful cry of pain placed in the mouth of the Mother of God as she sees her Son crucified, with a much-used text from the services of the Orthodox Church, the Trisagion: “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us”. While the poem from the Benediktbeuren manuscript is set in vernacular mediaeval German, I have intercalated the Trisagion in three languages: modern German, and Greek and Slavonic, two of the principal languages of the Orthodox Church. The use of the three languages, in addition to symbolizing the Trinity, stands for the universality of the Trisagion prayer. Lamentation of the Virgin is dedicated to the singers of Singer Pur.
Ivan Moody

Joanne Metcalf (b. 1958)
Il nome del bel fior (1998)

The events of Canto XXIII of Dante‘s Paradiso, completed in 1321, center around the advent of Christ as symbolized by the dawning sun that illuminates all stars, or blessed souls, in the eighth circle of heaven. Under the influence of this divine radiance, the stars blossom into a beautiful garden and Beatrice directs the pilgrim‘s gaze to „that rose through whom the Divine Word was made flesh“—the Virgin Mary, Mystic Rose of the liturgy. The voice of the poet praises „the name of that fair flower“ and it is that same name, Maria, around which Il nome del bel fior revolves, as does Dante‘s own „circling, soaring melody.“

Il nome del bel fior comprises three main sections in which the poet relates his vision of the Virgin as a fair rose as well as the brightest of all stars (recalling the familiar metaphor of Mary as the star of the sea, or stella maris) and jewel of heaven. These texted sections are surrounded by melismatic elaborations of the Virgin‘s name which, taken together, form an extended musical meditation that begins simply and starkly with the angelic countertenor solo and concludes with the entire ten-voice heavenly chorus. Dante‘s mystical, sensual words are set in a manner that is at once rugged and elegant: a vigorous, even primitive style of choral writing, inspired in part by music of the ancient Georgian singing schools, is carefully woven into the graceful fabric of polyphony. Increasingly intricate and extravagant rhythmic relationships develop across the seven sections of the work, a rhythmic flowering to parallel the symbolic flowering of the Virgin and other blessed souls under the Divine sun.

Il nome del bel fior was composed for the Hilliard Ensemble and Singer Pur with the assistance of a fellowship from the North Carolina (U. S. A.) Arts Council.
Joanne Metcalf

Opinions from the press

...Singer Pur und das - als Gäste in Erscheinung tretende - Hilliard Ensemble, für die das Werk auch entstand, singen das alles kongenial. Schöne zeitgenössische Musik für leicht besinnliche Stunde - und keineswegs nur für eine religiöse Hörerschaft...( Oswald Beaujean, Bayern 4 Klassik, Oktober 2004

CD 1

Wolfgang Rihm
1  “Tristis est anima mea”  02:47  
2  “Ecce vidimus eum”  03:56  
3  “Velum templi scissum est”  03:30  
4  “Tenebrae factae sunt”  04:45  

Salvatore Sciarrino
5  “Responsorio delle tenebre” a sei voci (2001)  08:41  

Ivan Moody
6  “Lamentation of the Virgin”  13:18  

Joanne Metcalf
“Il nome del bel fior” (1998)
7  “Maria I” – countertenor solo  02:48  
8  “Quivi è la rosa”
soprano, countertenor, tenor
9  “Maria II” – Singer Pur  02:39  
10  “Il nome del bel fior”
Hilliard Ensemble
11  “Maria III” – Hilliard Ensemble  02:34  
12  “Io sono amore angelico”
Singer Pur
13  “Maria IV” – Tutti  02:40  

total 60 : 47
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