The all-female vocal ensemble Papagena makes its debut on SOMM Recordings with The Darkest Midnight, a sublime collection of songs for winter from the Middle Ages to the modern era embracing the secular and the sacred.
Described as “a stunning addition to the vocal music scene” and “la crème de la crème in the crowded a cappella space”, Papagena’s three sopranos (Elizabeth Drury, Abbi Temple, Suzzie Vango) and two altos (Suzie Purkis, Sarah Tenant-Flowers) look certain to add to their fast-growing reputation with this beautifully sung compendium.
Casting a dark glamour all of its own, the bleakness of winter has prompted some of the most bewitching, brittle and bright songs. Alongside traditional Christmas anthems can be found legendary singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell’s The River in an achingly melancholic arrangement and American composer Don Macdonald, whose When the Earth Stands Still is movingly poignant and still, twilit and shining.
Celebratory songs marking the Christmas season – the exuberant In dulci Jubilo, burnished, glowing harmonies of Angelus ad virginem, sublimely serene Es ist ein Ros entsprungen and infectious Shchedryk/Hark How the Bells from Ukraine – are heard alongside lilting Irish songs from antiquity and the charming Scottish lullaby Balulalow. Songs from England, Germany, Norway and ‘Toi le coeur de la rose’ from Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges round off a recording that includes first performances of eight arrangements and is marked by sheer beauty of sound.
A recent visit to BBC Radio 3 saw presenter Sarah Walker remarking “the extraordinary voices of Papagena… went down a storm at our Maida Vale studios” while the arts review site The Prickle hailed the group as “a young, female Hilliard Ensemble”.
On This Recording
Trad. Irish arr. Suzzie Vango
- Don oíche úd i mBeithil Trad. German arr. Philip Lawson
- Maria durch ein Dornwald ging English 15th century: Bodleian MS
- Nowell, tidings true there be come new Trad. chorale melody arr. Winnie Brückner
- O Jesulein zart WB Yeats/John Tavener (1944-2013)
- A Nativity Ukrainian trad. adapted Peter J Wilhousky arr. Elizabeth Drury
- Shchedryk (Hark How the Bells) Wedderburn Bros./Suzzie Vango (b.1982)
- Balulalow Joni Mitchell arr. Jim Clements
- The River Colette/Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) arr. Clytus Gottwald
- Toi, le Cœur de la rose (L'enfant et les sortilèges) 13th century Arundel MS
- Angelus ad virginem Anon.
- Sancta Mater Gratiae/Dou Way Robin Anon. arr. Suzzie Vango
- Gaudete Trad. Irish arr. Diamaid Ó Muirithe
- The Darkest Midnight Lucia Quinault/Oliver Tarney (b.1970)
- The Waiting Sky Trad. Norwegian/Tone Krohn (b.1960) drum: Andy Guthrie
- Det lisle bånet (The little child) Trad. arr. Matthew Culloton
- In dulci jubilo Trad. German arr. M. Praetorius/Sarah Tenant-Flowers
- Es ist ein Ros entsprungen Don MacDonald (b.1966)
- When the Earth Stands Still Don Macdonald