Papagena Vocal Quintet: Hush! (Somm Recordings)

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What can you do with 3 sopranos and 2 altos. Be inventive, that’s what.

The all-women quintet Papagena have come up with a range of unaccompanied songs, settings and original commissions that often takes the breath away. Don Macdonald’s Moonset, for instance, does just what the title says: it sinks, gently, bringing hope of a new day, a breath of fresh air. Libby Larsen’s Jack’s Valentine declares ‘I love you’ with just the right degree of equivocation. Sweet Child O’Mine is a Guns N Roses hit reset for a capella voice – magic.

Apart from Larsen, David Lang, Tchaikovsky and Gustav Holst, I don’t recognise any of the composers selected and sit with ears wide open waiting to be surprised. More even than the music it’s the juxtapositions that deliver the thrills of discovery. I find that one of the songs is by the Times columnist Caitlin Moran, from an opening line by Rudyard Kipling. Now, that’s unexpected.

The singers, as named on their website, are Lizzie Drury, Suzie Purkis, Abbi Temple, Sarah Tenant-Flowers and Suzzie Vango. I want to hear them live.


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About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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