Celebrating 25 Years of Excellence

The Darkest Midnight: Songs of Winter and Christmas


Catalogue No: SOMMCD 0189
Release Date: 2018-10-26
Number of Discs: 1
EAN/UPC: 748871018921
Composers: , , , , , ,
Period: , ,
Liner Notes

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
  1. Don oíche úd i mBeithil
  2. Trad. German arr. Philip Lawson
  3. Maria durch ein Dornwald ging
  4. English 15th century: Bodleian MS
  5. Nowell, tidings true there be come new
  6. Trad. chorale melody arr. Winnie Brückner
  7. O Jesulein zart
  8. WB Yeats/John Tavener (1944-2013)
  9. A Nativity
  10. Ukrainian trad. adapted Peter J Wilhousky arr. Elizabeth Drury
  11. Shchedryk (Hark How the Bells)
  12. Wedderburn Bros./Suzzie Vango (b.1982)
  13. Balulalow
  14. Joni Mitchell arr. Jim Clements
  15. The River
  16. Colette/Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) arr. Clytus Gottwald
  17. Toi, le Cœur de la rose (L'enfant et les sortilèges)
  18. 13th century Arundel MS
  19. Angelus ad virginem
  20. Anon.
  21. Sancta Mater Gratiae/Dou Way Robin
  22. Anon. arr. Suzzie Vango
  23. Gaudete
  24. Trad. Irish arr. Diamaid Ó Muirithe
  25. The Darkest Midnight
  26. Lucia Quinault/Oliver Tarney (b.1970)
  27. The Waiting Sky
  28. Trad. Norwegian/Tone Krohn (b.1960) drum: Andy Guthrie
  29. Det lisle bånet (The little child)
  30. Trad. arr. Matthew Culloton
  31. In dulci jubilo
  32. Trad. German arr. M. Praetorius/Sarah Tenant-Flowers
  33. Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
  34. Don MacDonald (b.1966)
  35. When the Earth Stands Still
  36. Don Macdonald
  37. Fusion