Release Date: Jun 9, 2009
Record label: Harmonia Mundi
David Lang's the little match girl passion, for vocal quartet doubling on percussion instruments, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008. It's a strong, striking piece with a surprisingly potent emotional punch. Part of its effectiveness derives from the story itself, which is so achingly poignant that it can hardly fail to raise a lump in the throat. The text is primarily compiled from the story by Hans Christian Andersen and from familiar sections from Bach's St.
The Little Match Girl Passion was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer prize for music, and it's easy to see why. David Lang's retelling of Hans Andersen's fairy tale is an entrancingly beautiful piece. He models his 35-minute work on Bach's St Matthew Passion, alternating narrative and commentary with a text that interleaves English translations of Andersen's original with extracts from Bach's work and passages from St Matthew's gospel.
Composer David Lang, one of the founders of the art-music collective Bang on a Can, made his name in the late 1980s and 90s penning spiky blasts of music that dared you to hang on for the ride. Early works like "Cheating, Lying, Stealing" were statements of intent-- the bristling sort that artistically inflamed young men are prone to making-- and they encapsulated much of downtown New York's hardy oppositional spirit. Twenty-some years later, they are foundational texts for an entire new generation of gleeful polyglots who can't wait to mix their avant-punk, art-rock, electronic, and whatever-else records in with their childhood classical training.
DAVID LANG: ‘THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL PASSION,’ OTHER WORKS Ars Nova Copenhagen, Theater of Voices, conducted by Paul Hillier. Harmonia Mundi HMU 807496; hybrid SACD/CD. DAVID LANG’S goal here was to write an entirely secular Passion: instead of telling of Jesus’ last days, he would find a story in which an innocent suffered and died and treat the tale with the dignity of a sacred work.