Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Meredith Monk's "Songs of Ascension" is made up of 21 relatively short movements for ensembles of voices or instruments or combinations of both, in groupings as straightforward as a string quartet and as complex as the mix of 12 virtuoso vocal soloists, strings, bass clarinet, and percussion. The unity of the material may not be apparent on first hearing, but Monk helps orient the listener with her titles; there are three related movements with the title "Clusters," four with "Variations" one for each season, two with "Strand," and a "Mapping" and "Mapping Continued." In his insightful program notes, Kyle Gann comments that Monk's music sounds "not avant-garde, but ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Meredith Monk's "Songs of Ascension" is made up of 21 relatively short movements for ensembles of voices or instruments or combinations of both, in groupings as straightforward as a string quartet and as complex as the mix of 12 virtuoso vocal soloists, strings, bass clarinet, and percussion. The unity of the material may not be apparent on first hearing, but Monk helps orient the listener with her titles; there are three related movements with the title "Clusters," four with "Variations" one for each season, two with "Strand," and a "Mapping" and "Mapping Continued." In his insightful program notes, Kyle Gann comments that Monk's music sounds "not avant-garde, but ancient… not minimalist but like an invented folk tradition," and that Monk herself "sounds less like the sophisticated New York composer she is than like a shaman, some Druid priestess… whose music has somehow come down to us in a miraculous state of preservation." That imagery does certainly capture something of the intensely evocative, primordial quality that makes Monk's music so distinctive. It is potent testimony to the fertility of her imagination that even after a very productive lifetime of exploring non-traditional uses of the voice, she continues to astonish and dazzle with new vocal sounds, nowhere more evident than in her solo, "Fathom," the CD's penultimate track. The album was recorded in a studio, but Songs of Ascension was conceived and created as a site-specific work, to be performed on the staircase of an eight-story circular tower in Sonoma, CA, designed by artist Ann Hamilton. Something may have been lost in transferring the piece from its original, unique sonic environment, but what's added is the massed power of the Montclair State University Singers, who bring an awesome monumentality to the final movement. Monk also marshals a broad range of new music virtuosi: the members of her own ensemble, the singers of the M6, and the Todd Reynolds Quartet. Produced by ECM's legendary Manfred Eicher, the album's sound is immaculate, warm, and immediate. Highly recommended, especially for Monk's fans and anyone who loves innovative vocal music.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/17/2011
  • Label: Ecm Records
  • UPC: 028947643074
  • Catalog Number: 001556902
  • Sales rank: 8,071

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Clusters 1 (3:17)
  2. 2 Strand (Gathering) (1:55)
  3. 3 Winter Variation (1:51)
  4. 4 Cloud Code (3:31)
  5. 5 Shift (1:51)
  6. 6 Mapping (2:07)
  7. 7 Summer Variation (3:16)
  8. 8 Vow (3:12)
  9. 9 Clusters 2 (2:27)
  10. 10 Falling (2:54)
  11. 11 Burn (4:16)
  12. 12 Strand (Inner Psalm) (3:12)
  13. 13 Autumn Variation (2:48)
  14. 14 Ledge Dance (1:50)
  15. 15 Traces (1:20)
  16. 16 Respite (5:56)
  17. 17 Mapping Continued (1:29)
  18. 18 Clusters 3 (2:09)
  19. 19 Spring Variation (4:03)
  20. 20 Fathom (4:37)
  21. 21 Ascent (9:26)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Meredith Monk Primary Artist, Vocals, Shruti Box
Katie Geissinger Vocals, Shruti Box
John Hollenbeck Percussion, Vocals, Shruti Box
Todd Reynolds Violin
Ching Gonzalez Vocals, Shruti Box
Sasha Bogdanowitsch Vocals
Courtney Orlando Violin, Vocals
Nadia Sirota Viola, Vocals
Bohdan Hilash Bass Clarinet, Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Khaen, Shruti Box
Todd Reynolds String Quartet String Quartet
Ellen Fisher Vocals, Shruti Box
Toby Newman Vocals
Allison Sniffin Vocals, Shruti Box
Peter Sciscioli Vocals
Bruce Rameker Vocals, Shruti Box
Ha-Yang Kim Cello, Vocals
Sidney Chen Vocals
Montclair State University Singers Choir, Chorus, Vocal Ensemble
M6 Voices Ensemble, Vocal Ensemble
Heather J. Buchanan Conductor
Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble Vocal Ensemble
Holly Nadal Vocals
Emily Eagen Vocals
Technical Credits
Meredith Monk Composer
Manfred Eicher Producer
James Farber Engineer
Paul Zinman Engineer
Kyle Gann Liner Notes
Marion Gray Cover Photo
Bohdan Hilash Composer
Mieke van Hoek Composer
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