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The Consolations of Scholarship

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Audio CD, January 1, 2006
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Product Details

  • Performer: Xak Bjerken (piano) Janice Felty (mezzo-soprano)
  • Orchestra: Ensemble X
  • Conductor: Mark Scatterday
  • Composer: Judith Weir
  • Audio CD (January 1, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Albany Records
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #601,710 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. The Consolations of Scholarship - Weir
2. Piano Concerto - Weir
3. King Harald's Saga - Weir

Editorial Reviews

The Scottish-born Judith Weir began her career as an oboist and took composition lessons with John Tavener and Robin Holloway. Her music is performed in Europe and the United States. Her works reflect her diverse interests in narrative, folklore and theatre, with British folk music a strong influence. This release is an excellent sampling for those unfamiliar with her work: The Consolations of Scholarship is a highly-compressed opera, based on 14th century Chinese Yuan plays, where all the characters are played by one multi-voiced singer. The Piano Concerto, where the soloist is partnered by nine solo string players, emulates the scale of the early Mozart concerti; King Harald's Saga, is a “Grand Opera in Three Acts” for solo soprano voice, depicting the attempted invasion of England by Norway in 1066. Inspired by Emily Dickinson, Musicians Wrestle Everywhere is a one-movement concerto for ten instruments, reflecting the “street environment” of Weir's own urban neighborhood. You'll find Weir to be a highly original compositional voice.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Gold on July 21, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'd heard good things about British composer Judith Weir (b.1954) for quite some time, but this was the first I've heard her work. I know I like it, but I'm not quite sure what I think of it. I'd definitely like to hear more, especially works for larger forces.

Here we have four compositions, all very spare in texture but widely disparate in structure. First, there's The Consolations of Scholarship, an "opera" which alternates narration and declamation by mezzo Janice Felty. She doesn't have much to sing, exactly, but what she does is never less than musical. Ensemble X, led by composer Steven Stucky, goes along with her, echoing her voice patterns rather in the manner of Steve Reich. The text, based on 14th Cent. Chinese plays, whizzes by like a locomotive. The effect is piquant and melancholy.

Next we have a short jazz-tinted, delicately scored Piano Concerto, in which both soloist Xak Bjerken and conductor Mark Davis Scatterday acquit themselves admirably. Then there's King Harold's Saga, a solo for soprano Judith Kellock, to a text in which Norway, not France, invades England in 1066. Finally my favorite, Musicians Wrestle Everywhere, in which ten instruments, conducted by Scatterday, indulge in spare, muted, but ultimately playful interaction. All of the works on this program are noted for achieving maximum effect with minimum means. Why, for instance, did I keep thinking there were other musicians taking part in King Harold, when it was just Ms. Kellock warbling away?
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