James Weeks: Mala punica

£13.00

Release Date: 2017
Label: Winter & Winter
Length: 54 minutes 

James Weeks’ Mala punica for eight solo voices (2008-9) takes its inspiration from the vision of an abundant, fertile natural universe that defines the biblical Song of Songs.

Description

James Weeks’ Mala punica for eight solo voices (2008-9) takes its inspiration from the vision of an abundant, fertile natural universe that defines the biblical Song of Songs: ripening figs, budding pomegranates (the mala punica of the title), flowers swaying in a gentle breeze, rising plumes of smoke are all translated into musical images and coiled into canonic textures. Around it, a group of six instrumentalists – interlocked trios of strings and flutes – play the three pieces of Walled Garden (2015), described by the composer as ‘a soil for the vocal songs to take root in’, and depicting a garden at dawn, midday and dusk. ‘A triumph of audacity and originality: an enclosed garden of 21st-century art’ Sunday Times

James Weeks Mala punica

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Reviews

“This is a seductive thing: lush, finespun music by James Weeks, performed by his peerless vocal ensemble Exaudi and the excellent instrumentalists of the Netherlands-based Hortus Ensemble – artfully recorded, too, by the Winter & Winter label… There’s a refinement and definition to the writing that sounds just right in Exaudi’s chiselled-but-definitely-not-chaste delivery.”  The Guardian ****

“Weeks’s own Exaudi vocal ensemble is joined by the Hortus Ensemble in an immaculately detailed performance where each line carries weight and audibly contributes to the whole.”  Gramophone

“Under composer-conductor James Weeks, the vocal ensemble Exaudi has forged a formidable and fearless reputation in contemporary music. On this CD they are joined by the excellent instrumentalists of the Netherlands-based Hortus Ensemble for Weeks’s own seductive Mala punica (pomegranate), a set of eight canonic pieces based on the Song of Songs, and Walled Garden, three pieces for strings and flute trios that Weeks argues is a ‘kind of musical “bed” for the “aural garden” of the vocal pieces to take root in.’ The result is a refined, lush sequence which, in this authoritative reading, is marvellously hypnotic in effect.”  Choir & Organ *****

“A stunningly subtle, disarmingly simple achievement; a crystallisation of basic ideas down to the point that they transform into something else entirely. Combining the metaphor of the hortus conclusus with a setting of Song of Songs, Weeks’ piece models an exquisite tension between chaste procedure and order, and over-tumbling sensuality.”  The Rambler blog, Tim Rutherford-Johnson

Album recommended and critically acclaimed by New York Times Critic Alex Ross on The Rest is Noise blog

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