John Adams: El Niño (2001)
Classical | EAC (APE & CUE) | 458 MB
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Sung in English, Spanish, and Latin, this warm and sometimes moving oratorio humanizes the Nativity by emphasizing Mary's perspective and the miracle of birth. Based on a variety of sources, including the New Testament Apocrypha and contemporary Latin American poetry, El Niño
begins with the steady repetition of a D minor chord, followed by the introduction of polyrhythms and dissonance, as well as countertenors Brian Cummings and Dan Brubeck. Both of them, as well as the third countertenor, Steven Rickards, give golden performances on this album. Particular kudos, however, must go to the three principals: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, mezzo-soprano; Dawn Upshaw, soprano; and Willard White, baritone. Even though there are moments when White's baritone threatens to dominate, they aren't significant enough to forestall any pleasure in the overall work.