Michael Finnissy Vocal Works 1974-2015 Exaudi & James Weeks
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- Michael Finnissy (1946 - ): Gesualdo: Libro Sesto:
- Tom Fool's Wooing:
- 9Tom Fool's Wooing18:57
Info for Michael Finnissy Vocal Works 1974-2015
The four works on this album spanning 40 years, show Finnissian vocality at its most blazingly intense: displays of virtuosity that push mind and body to the limits of their flexibility, reach, stamina and control.
Fantasien… über die Liebe und den Tod, über dis Stimme. Dieses Album mit dem Haupttitel „Michael Finnissy“, aufgenommen 2015 und 2016, bearbeitet 2017 und 2018, bringt vier der virtuosesten und spektakulärsten Werke, die jemals für Vokalmusik verfaßt wurden.
‘Is not song that arena where the voice is so spectacularly displayed, fuelled by so many breathless propulsions, fantasies, sexualities, and dreams?’ Brandon LaBelle, Lexicon of the Mouth
The voice has a central place in Michael Finnissy’s output. His is an art of line, of connective lyric movement spun out over a breath; it is also a deeply humanist art, an art in ardent search of human connection, of which the voice, reaching out from the depths of the body into the world around us, is the primal vehicle. Finnissy’s work manifests across the decades an abiding concern with the complex nature of this most bodily, most physical, most personal of instruments – what it is to give voice, to vocalise, to speak or sing in different contexts and different ways, private or public, as an individual or as part of a collective.
The four works on this recording, spanning forty years, show Finnissian vocality at its most blazingly intense: displays of virtuosity that push mind and body to the limits of their flexibility, reach, stamina and control. The most recent work, Gesualdo: Libro Sesto, offers seven ‘fantasies…about music, about love and death, about the voice,’ as the composer writes, drawing on fragments of music and on texts from Gesualdo’s final madrigal book in a cycle of almost operatic scope. In the early ‘dramatic madrigal’ Cipriano, St Cyprian rigidly resists the carnal temptations of a Demon, played with flamboyant excess by the rest of the ensemble; Tom Fool’s Wooing (which lay unperformed for almost forty years before the present performance was recorded) is even more vocally extravagant, a celebration of marriage and the joys of eros, incorporating Eastern European love poetry, Spenser’s Epithalamion and an English mummer’s play. Kelir, the most abstract but also perhaps most rawly physical of the four, takes its title from the name given to the curtain onto which shadow-puppets are projected in Javanese wayang kulit (puppet theatre); by extension, writes Finnissy, ‘it is also a curtain onto which our interpretations of the world, and our fantasies, are projected.’
Exaudi Vocal Ensemble
is one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles for new music. Founded by James Weeks (director) and Juliet Fraser (soprano) in 2002, EXAUDI is based in London and draws its singers from among the UK’s brightest vocal talents.
EXAUDI’s special affinity is for the radical edges of contemporary music, at home equally with maximal complexity, microtonality and experimental aesthetics. The newest new music is at the heart of its repertoire, and it has given national and world premières of Sciarrino, Rihm, Finnissy, Fox, Posadas, Oesterle, Crane, Eötvös, Ferneyhough, Gervasoni, Skempton, Ayres, Pesson, Poppe, Mažulis and Fox among many others. Through its commissioning scheme, EXAUDI is particularly committed to the music of its own generation, and is proud to champion the work of significant voices including Aaron Cassidy, Evan Johnson, Bryn Harrison, Amber Priestley, Matthew Shlomowitz, Joanna Bailie, Cassandra Miller, Andrew Hamilton, James Weeks and Claudia Molitor.
EXAUDI is also strongly involved with the emerging generation of young composers, and regularly takes part in composer development schemes and residencies such as SaM Portfolio, Voix Nouvelles Royaumont, IRCAM Manifeste Academie and Aldeburgh composer residencies, as well as workshops at universities and conservatoires throughout the UK. EXAUDI has particularly strong links with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and City, University of London, where it is an Ensemble in Residence.
EXAUDI’s many international engagements include Wittener Tage, Darmstadter Ferienkurse, Musica Viva (Munich), Muziekgebouw (Amsterdam), IRCAM (Paris), Festival d’Automne (Paris), Voix Nouvelles (Royaumont), Pharos (Cyprus), Musica (Strasbourg), MAfestival (Bruges), CDMC (Madrid), MITO Settembre (Milan/Turin), Fundaciò BBVA (Bilbao) and Quincena Musical (San Sebastiàn). The ensemble has also collaborated with many leading ensembles including musikFabrik, Ensemble Modern, L’Instant Donné, London Sinfonietta, BCMG, Talea (NY) and Ensemble InterContemporain.
EXAUDI has appeared at many leading UK venues and festivals, including Spitalfields, BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, City of London, Bath, FuseLeeds, Manchester International Festival and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festivals, Wigmore Hall, Café OTO, Kings Place and South Bank. EXAUDI broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3 and European radio stations, and has released eleven critically acclaimed recordings on the NMC, ÆON, Métier, Winter&Winter, Mode, Confront and HCR labels. Their recent recordings of James Weeks’ Mala punica/Walled Garden, Gérard Pesson’s Cantate = Pays and Michael Finnissy’s Cipriano, Tom Fool’s Wooing, Kelir and Gesualdo: Libro Sesto will be released in 2017-18.
Future projects for 2017 include Stefan Winter’s multimedia performance installation Poem of a Cell (San Sebastiàn and Munich), Chromatic Renaissance (Vicentino, Rore, Lassus and Weeks) at Aldeburgh Festival, Posadas Tenebrae with Ensemble InterContemporain (Paris) and Laurence Crane’s Pieces About Art at the PRSF Biennial (London and Hull).
On 1st April 2017 EXAUDI celebrates its 15th birthday at Wigmore Hall with a programme of Arcadelt, Weeks, Monteverdi, Wert and Sciarrino.
Born in Blackburn in 1978, James Weeks read Music at Cambridge before completing a PhD in Composition at Southampton University with Michael Finnissy. His music has been commissioned and performed by leading performers including Alison Balsom, EXAUDI, Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea, Endymion, Anton Lukoszevieze and Christopher Redgate. He has been featured at UK and European festivals including City of London, Spitalfields, Vale of Glamorgan and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festivals, Soundwaves Brighton, Cutting Edge (London), Gaudeamus (Amsterdam), Weimarer Frühjahrstage and Mafra (Portugal).
Recent major works include the Harmonies of South London series (for various ensembles, 2008 -), Burnham Air (for oboe d'amore, 2008), Hototogisu (for children's choir, 2007) and Mala punica (for eight solo voices, 2008-9). He is currently writing a substantial work for voices and instruments entitled Parnassus, and a triptych of pieces with electronics for Apartment House.
As a conductor, he is best known for his work with the contemporary specialists EXAUDI, the vocal ensemble he founded with the soprano Juliet Fraser in 2002. With them he maintains a busy international touring schedule, collaborating regularly with the world's leading composers, new music soloists and ensembles, and has released four acclaimed CDs on NMC, of Finnissy, Fox, Lutyens and Skempton. The ensemble specialises in the most complex new and experimental music, often presented alongside repertoire from the Renaissance or early baroque.
He was appointed Musical Director of the New London Chamber Choir in 2007 in succession to James Wood, and is in great demand as a guest conductor, choral animateur and tutor. He is also active as an organ recitalist, pianist and writer on contemporary music, and broadcasts regularly on early and new music for BBC Radio 3.