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Harbison: Four Psalms, Emerson/ David Hoose, Cantata Singers

Release Date: 01/27/2004 
Label:  New World Records   Catalog #: 80613   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John Harbison
Performer:  Frank KelleyDavid KravitzLynn TorgoveMajie Zeller,   ... 
Conductor:  David Hoose
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantata SingersCantata Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 52 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In his Four Psalms John Harbison interweaves Hebrew poems (a Babylonian prayer, Psalms 114, 126, 133, and 137) with English texts of his own devising. The new material was compiled from conversations with Jews, Arabs, and Palestinians that took place during Harbison's preparatory visit to Israel in 1997. This juxtaposition of ancient and modern Jewish history (Israeli occupation, Intifada) is strikingly effective thanks to Harbison's engaging score, which alternates between sacred and contemporary-styled music. The prayerful strains of Psalm 137, which laments the Jews' captivity, is rudely imposed upon by the modernist (though primarily tonal) declamations of present day politicians, Bedouins, drivers, and scholars. The work goes through a Read more series of such conflagrations before closing in a hopeful prayer of peace in Psalm 133. Soloists Zeller, Torgove, Kelley, and Kravitz each present heartfelt, well sung performances.

Harbison's word-setting and choral writing is even more impressive in the coupled Emerson for a cappella chorus. Drawing from the philosopher's various writings, Part I confronts Man's failure to self-actualize, while Part II addresses the mystery of life itself. Harbison relays all of this in music that is at once challenging and accessible, terse yet beautiful.

Both works receive persuasive performances by the Cantata Singers and Ensemble (the latter appears in the Four Psalms) under the direction of David Hoose. New World's life-like sound completes the package, making this a disc of special interest to fans of Harbison and to collectors of contemporary music.
--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Psalms (4) by John Harbison
Performer:  Frank Kelley (Tenor), David Kravitz (Baritone), Lynn Torgove (Mezzo Soprano),
Majie Zeller (Soprano)
Conductor:  David Hoose
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantata Singers,  Cantata Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; USA 
Emerson by John Harbison
Performer:  Deborah Dunham (Double Bass), Beth Pearson (Cello)
Conductor:  David Hoose
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantata Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
Language: English 

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