I was going to put a link to this post, but instead, I have copied it across.
Let me tell you
Composer Hans Abrahamsen, words Paul Griffiths, Soprano Barbara Hannigan
Bayerischen Rundfunks Orch, Andris Nelsons, on the Winter and Winter label
A new song cycle that seems to me to be a masterpiece. But can it enter the repertoire?
Most great song cycles yield to some possibility of permitting different voice types to advocate them. There are some exceptions such as Strauss's Four Last Songs. But here, you need a high wire soprano who can cope with microtones. I cannot imagine the piece being transposed; it would destroy the orchestral sounds and textures. So very few singers will be able to advocate this piece; which does not make it any less compelling or important. But I doubt that you will get much opportunity to hear it live.
This group of songs uses the words of Hamlet's Ophelia extracted and reordered to provide a much more richly textured character: someone who can represent women and their experiences widely and deeply. The soundworld is tonal, but without a firm key. The orchestra kept reminding me of glass, evoking white light. Much of it lies high, it shimmers. The words are drawn from Shakespeare, the sounds often echo Monteverdi. Abrahamsen deploys a repeatedly struck note and word like the earlier composer did to hit home words or emphesise a point. That trait is most evident in the initial and then the final movement. There is melody, not long and sinuous, but transitory, snatched and short breathed. Yet, it does not feel fragmented, this is a deeply satisfying listen.
It is spellbinding music, moving and disolving like a mirage. The final movement fades away rather like the end of Das Lied. Without echoing Mahler, I neverthless kept thinking of the disolve at the end of the 9th Symphony.
The performance seems splendid; this singer is very much under the skin of the piece and has the technique to manage the extraordinary difficulties that have been stitched into it. Nelsons pulls out lots of layering and detail, though I have no idea what else it might sound like, but assume he serves the score faithfully, how would I know? But the orchestra sounds terrific.
At only just over half an hour it feels like an expensive disc......until you hear it.