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Dacapo - The National Music Anthology of Denmark

Format:  SACD

Catalogue Number:  6.220597

Barcode:  747313159765

Release month:  Oct 2011

Period:  Late 20th Century, Late 20th Century, 21st Century


A Bridge of Dreams

09 February 2012  Gramophone
Peter Dickinson

Danish ensemble in music from America and Australia Californian plainsong? That's what you get in Lou Harrison's 23-minute Mass in 11 sections commissioned by the St Cecilia Society for the Preservation of Gregorian Chant and Peking Opera in 1983. It comes complete with a weird continuo of medieval instruments, with scope for improvisation, and starts close to plainsong monody; then we get drones and organum. It's another Harrison mix of East and West that sounds fabulous in this acoustic.

The other composers are from Down Under. Ross Edwards sets two psalms but intercalates them with the names of birds in aboriginal languages. His Kingfisher Psalms is a rhythmic virtuoso piece requiring an underused tarn-tarn. Jack Body is a New Zealand ethnomusicologist who uses made-up languages for the text of his Five Lullabies inspired by Chinese singing techniques. Two lullabies are boisterous, designed for paternal delivery rather than by the conventional mother. If the noisy ones wake the baby up then the last one should settle it down again. The Seafarer has a text from Anglo-Saxon modernised by Kevin Crossley-Holland and music by the Chinese composer Liu Sola. The Baroque harp virtuoso Andrew Lawrence-King has more scope than elsewhere on this CD and Paul Hillier himself recounts the story.

Anne Boyd's As I crossed a bridge of dreams (1975) gives its title to the CD and, with its rapt sostenuto, steals the show. Almost endlessly sustained, immaculately imagined, and - like everything else here - admirably performed.

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