HANS ABRAHAMSEN (b.1952): Let Me Tell You for Soprano and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 02R047
Label: Winter & Winter
Reference: 910 232-2
Description: In this enthralling, enraptured and gorgeous work, author and composer take the character of Shakespeare's Ophelia and give her aspects of a fuller existence and personality outside the play that gave her life. As author Paul Griffiths says, 'Ophelia is one of those imaginary figures whose existence goes on beyond the work that gave them birth'. In his 2008 novel, from which this work is derived, he fleshes out her character and history, using the experimental-literature device of writing with a deliberately restricted 'palette' - in this case, only the vocabulary given to her by Shakespeare, a constraint also rigorously applied here, in an extended monologue on the nature, power and associations of music - ingeniously appropriate, as Shakespeare's character has musical attributes and, in fact, her most interesting utterances are snatches of songs that she quotes. These are Ophelia's thoughts as she might have conceived them, in terms in which she might have expressed them - melancholy, reflective, unstable, fragile and vulnerable - and, literally, in her own words. Abrahamsen’s 35-minute monodrama matches this compelling, emotionally involving experiment in music of the utmost sensitivity, adapting an harmonically lush, romantic tonal vocabulary (Mahler repeatedly comes to mind) to his own devices by a process analogous to Griffiths' cut-up and recombining approach to the text; every element is authentic; the combinations in which they are presented entirely original. The vocal line is exquisite, delicate, utterly appropriate; a virtuoso tour de force of great subtlety, that never draws attention to its technique but perfectly portrays the intimate psychology of the character. English texts. Barbara Hannigan (soprano), Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Andris Nelsons.