There's nothing meek or morbid about Telemann's 'Jesu' in this passion oratorio. This is a confident muscular Jesu, closer to the Saxon Heliand than to the Man of Sorrows depicted on the CD cover; the first aria proclaims Him a hero: "Du Held… du kannst und willst mein Schutzgott sein." (You Hero… you can and will be my Protector-God.) Before that, the Siegfriedesque cantabile for horn that opens the composition sounds not so much like a lament as a call to don one's spiritual armor, and throughout the whole text Jesu is portrayed as indomitable amid the torment and agony of his followers. Specifically, He is the Lion of Judah, the model of Christian fortitude against all enemies. Yes, there are also moments of anguish in the text and poignancy in the music, but overall this is a depiction of the Passion as a Triumph. Whether that concept accords with your personal theology, dear Music Fan, is your own concern. As for me, I love the music too much to be antagonized by mere dogma.
On Ravenchild, Maddy Prior teamed up again with keyboard player Nick Holland and multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley, whose arsenal included Uilleann pipes and low whistle, as she had on her previous album, Flesh & Blood. The centerpiece of the album was a six song suite dubbed "In the Company of Ravens" (also the title of the first song), a series of Prior originals concerning the carrion birds who give the word "ravenous" its meaning. This was sometimes gritty stuff, as Prior described the birds' eating habits, though their mating habits were far more inspiring. The album also contained a three song suite, "With Napoleon in Russia," tracing that famous historical defeat. Then there was "Rigs of the Time," a condemnation of contemporary media culture set to a traditional melody, and the album concluded with what Prior herself described as the eerie traditional song "Great Silkie of Sules Skerry." The music and Prior's singing could be haunting, but Ravenchild was an album of disquieting material, whether the subject was aviary, historical, or contemporary.
Concerts with Maria Schneider are something special. They are stylistically not only out of the ordinary, they also manage to bring large orchestras to perform artistically at high voltage, with an energy and at a creative level which is otherwise known only in much smaller ensembles. It is not the music alone that drives the participants, but rather the serene seriousness of a band leader who demands a maximum of intensity from her compositions and passes this premise on to their interpretation. It is impossible to conceive of compositions for jazz orchestras more stringently. The instrumentalists know this too, and therefore feel called upon not only to reproduce the charts accurately but to work out all the contained hints, implications, and visions of sound down to the deepest levels. This original recording was made in May 2000 when Schneider appeared alongside the SWR Big Band. And for the SWR Big Band, those days in May 2000 are some of the highlights of their orchestral history.
The Cousins is a guitar group of the late fifties and early sixties who were among the first to successfully export "rock & roll" music from Belgium. Played Shadows-like music and also had a stage act which resembled that of The Shadows. Started off at the end of the fifties as "La Jeune Equipe". Their main occupation was playing at the birthday parties of the rich and noble. They change their name to "Les Cousins" when they were asked to perform in a club with the same name on the 14th of July (French fкte nationale). It's there that the group gets a record contract with Jean Klüger…
According to German theological tradition, which Bach knew very well, the alto voice was the very symbol of the Holy Ghost. Bach's three solo cantatas for alto demand enormous vocal virtuosity. Their extraordinary musical variety embraces sublime consolatory lullabies, a faithful echo of an organ concerto and the dramatic qualities of an oratorio. Andreas Scholl is the featured soloist in this reissue, backed by Philippe Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale Gent.