First Drop / Hillier, Ars Nova Copenhagen
Conducted by Paul Hillier since 2003, Denmark's Ars Nova Copenhagen has built an immovable reputation as one of the world’s most versatile and inventive vocal ensembles. First Drop is testament to that spirit; it’s a wide-ranging and ambitious project that interprets the choral work of some of the giants of contemporary classical music, including Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Louis Andriessen, Michael Gordon, David Lang and more. “Almost all the works on this [release] are first recordings,” Hilliar explains, referring to one source of inspiration behind the title. “Ideally we wanted the idea of First Drop to remain ambiguous, but the diligent listener will sooner or later notice that it originates with Ralph Waldo Emerson.” Recorded over a stretch of nearly ten years, in different locations and with different configurations of singers, the performances documented here still come across as parts of a seamless whole. From the haunting strains of Michael Gordon’s “He Saw A Skull” (composed specifically for the twelve voices of Ars Nova) to Hillier’s vocal arrangement of Steve Reich’s classic “Clapping Music,” First Drop channels a vernal energy that’s unparalleled in new vocal music.
It’s difficult to resist the notion that everything Denmark’s leading vocal ensemble touch turns into sonorous gold. Recorded by Ars Nova Copenhagen over a period of 10 years under their inspirational director, Paul Hillier, ‘First Drop’ exudes all the freshness and vitality of a spring shower on a sunny day.
Catalog Number: CA21127
Composer: David Lang, Gabriel Jackson, Howard Skempton, Kevin Volans, Louis Andriessen, Michael Gordon, Pablo Ortiz, Steve Reich, Terry Riley
Conductor: Paul Hillier
Orchestra/Ensemble: Ars Nova Copenhagen
Performer: Christopher Bowers-Broadbent