- Jonah and the Whale, oratorio for narrator, 2 voices, chorus & orchestra
In his notes for this premiere recording of "Jonah and the Whale," his first full-length oratorio, Dominick Argento wrote, "I like to play with macaronic things," meaning works that include a variety of disparate entities. In this piece, even more than is usual for him, he gives play to a wild assortment of elements. The text, which the composer assembled, is written in three languages, English, Latin, and Greek, and includes a Medieval mystery play, biblical texts, sections of the Christian liturgy, and English sea shanties. The musical styles are just as diverse, including the use of serialism, a Protestant hymn, an English whaling tune, and a harmonic and melodic language reminiscent of Benjamin Britten. There are some lovely moments, such as the choral description of God's gift to Jonah of the little vine, and the choral backing to God's aria of rebuke. The Boston Modern Orchestra Project and the Providence Singers, conducted by Andrew Clark, deliver a committed, polished reading that makes as strong a case as possible for the work. The soloists, narrator Thomas Oakes, tenor Daniel Norman, and bass Daniel Cole likewise turn in capable, admirable performances. BMOP's sound is clean and vividly present.