A unique recital on record of haunting stories in many different languages, all harnessing the timeless expressive power of the human voice on its own, including several works new to the catalogue.
Lorna Windsor’s selection of eight 20th and 21st-century composers highlights how the voice incarnates different expressive forms more than any instrument. Left naked in its primeval state, the voice leads each composer to rediscover his personal voice, unfettered by convention. Six of the eight composers represented here were born within the same five years, from 1926 (Kurtág and Feldman) to 1931 (Bussotti, Kagel), in 1929 Pousseur, in 1930 De Pablo. Andriessen was born slightly after in 1939 whilst only Macmillan (b.1959) belongs to the following generation.
Bold simplicity is the keynote of Feldman’s brief setting of Rilke, Only: purely diatonic across its two minute span, whereas Henri Pousseur’s equally concise tribute to Baudelaire uses a 12-tone technique to create the illusion of diatonicism. In the hands of Luis de Pablo, Góngora’s evocation of a flight of storks creating patterns in the sky, is suggested by melismatic use of the voice, with arpeggios and filigree in quasi-instrumental notation, with arabesque-like writing which hints at distant Arabic hues of flamenco.
In Einige Sätze aus den Sudelbüchern Georg Christoph Lichtenbergs, György Kurtág set the caustic aphorisms of a18th-century German physicist and writer with lightning flashes of insight and expression. By contrast, A Song of the Sea by Louis Andriessen requires the singer to sit (in performance) with a doll on her lap as she tells a sad little story with a simplicity redolent of folksong. Bussotti and Kagel both made far more thoroughgoing exploration of vocal technique in the Lettura di Braibanti and The Tower of Babel respectively.
Lorna Windsor closes her recital with the most extended work on the album: in angustiis II, a lament by James Macmillan which presents a grief-stricken image of humanity crying out to God. She is a specialist in early and contemporary repertoire who can call upon several languages as mother tongues.
Music for solo voice takes us back to the very roots of music, when it was the direct and unique expression of the soul and the body through its breath, supported by the rhythms created by the hands. With the development of musical instruments and polyphony, the solo voice became surrounded, embedded in harmonic and contrapuntal textures. It was in the 20th century that the voice became liberated from its enforced confinement and began to soar once more alone, breaking the barriers between pitched singing and spoken voice, whispered or cried out loud.
This adventurous and original program presents original works for solo voice by Morton Feldman, György Kurtág, Henri Pousseur, Sylvano Bussotti, Louis Andriessen, Mauricio Kagel and James Macmillan, icons of the 20th century.
Lorna Windsor is one of the most versatile sopranos of today, equally at home in Early Music and contemporary music. She recorded for Brilliant Classics music by John Cage, Erik Satie and Claude Debussy.
The booklet contains extensive liner notes as well as the original song texts and its English translations.