GEORGE BENJAMIN (b.1960): Into the Little Hill for Soprano, Contralto and Orchestra (Hila Plitmann [soprano], Susan Bickley [contralto], London Sinfonietta), Dream of the Song for Countertenor, Chorus and Orchestra (Bejun Mehta [countertenor], Netherlands Chamber Choir, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra), Flight for Solo Flute (Michael Cox).
Catalogue Number: 05S066
Reference: NI 5964
Description: Into the Little Hill is a retelling of the Pied Piper story, emphasizing the more disturbing contemporary ramifications of the tale. A politician wants to get rid of the 'rats' of society - whether these are literally rats, as in the fairy tale, or the undesirables of society (according to the baying crowd), is never clear - to the end of getting himself re-elected. The crystal clarity of the narrative, and the matching economy and precision of the music render the ambiguity of meaning of the text into sharp relief. Two voices play all the characters; the Minister, his wife and child, the sinister stranger who can transcend natural laws through his music) and the ensemble suggests the delicate yet inexorable motion of a clock mechanism. Dream of the Song sets verses by three major poets who spent formative years in Granada; two mid-11th century Hebrew poets and Gabriel Garcia Lorca. The piece is shadowy and mysterious, exotic and melancholy, full of memorable timbres, highly original tone colors and rich tonal harmony, not used in a conventional tonal fashion. Powerful motifs in the bass register underpin monolithic chordal structures and opulently orchestrated episodes of dramatic event. In between is a very early work, described by the composer as 'inspired by the sight of birds soaring and dipping over the peaks of the Swiss Alps’ [producing] 'a clear, dramatic structure and harmony within a monody restricted to the flute’s three-octave compass’. George Benjamin (conductor).