LUNA PEARL WOOLF: Fire and Flood Composer-Portrait Album Now Available
From a deeply stirring Mass to hauntingly re-imagined Leonard Cohen masterpieces, LUNA PEARL WOOLF: Fire and Flood encompasses 25 years of vocal and choral works by the innovative American-Canadian composer. The composer-portrait album features new and compelling performances from The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY conducted by Julian Wachner, cellist Matt Haimovitz, soprano Devon Guthrie, mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata, and Broadway actress Nancy Anderson.
Noted among a new generation of politically conscious and artistically progressive composers, Luna Pearl Woolf's music has been heard widely across North America and in Europe and is praised by The New York Times for its "psychological nuances and emotional depth." Cellist Matt Haimovitz says Woof's newest album shows her "rare compositional voice...of profound empathy and soaring lyricism, that has the ability to nourish the mind and heart."
Summarizing the works in the album liner notes, The New York Times contributing writer Corinna Da Fonseca-Wollheim writes, "Luna Pearl Woolf trains a zoom lens on the collective experience, sometimes plunging us right into the midst of destruction and anarchy only to pull back, in one swoop, to a clear-eyed plane of compassion." Conductor Julian Wachner says Luna's compositional voice is "brilliant and emotionally rich...firmly rooted in the tradition yet yearning and succeeding to say something new and relevant."
The dramatic, low-voiced To the Fire, with its text from the Book of Ezekiel, opens the album and is the earliest work, originally written in 1994 when Woolf was an undergraduate, and updated in 2018. Studying composition at the time with Mario Davidovsky at Harvard, Woolf was warned that To the Fire would be a challenge to the artistic sensibilities of the time. As Fonseca-Wollheim notes, "she takes us into the heart of a riot with shocking immediacy. You can almost see the gap-toothed cackle, the destructive glee spreading like a rash...[the work] now reads as a Cassandrian prophecy of environmental depredation - or perhaps, just as vividly, as the foreshadowing of the violent glee of a Twitter mob."
Woolf's Après moi, le déluge was written in the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and is one of Woolf's most frequently-performed works - including in New Orleans and at Carnegie Hall in New York. Commissioned by Matt Haimovitz, the concerto for cello and a cappella choir, on an original text by MacArthur-winning poet Eleanor Wilner has been described as "by turns blazingly ardent and softly haunting" by The New York Times, and "sorrowful, deeply political, and aching with universal regret" by Strings Magazine.
Composed for the choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto, the three-movement Missa in Fines Orbis Terrae, set for choir and organ, was the first outside commission for the Cathedral in 20 years. The moniker "the ends of the earth" lending the piece its title is the motto of St James. In it, Woolf reflects on the lengths to which faith might bring us, with the Agnus Dei crying out for mercy on the way toward martyrdom. Recorded at the historic St. Paul's Chapel of Trinity Wall Street, at the site of 9/11, this is the first recording made on the new organ at St. Paul's, installed in 2017.
About the inventive One to One to One, inspired by artist Jim Dine's dramatic, towering redwood sculpture "At the Carnival" at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Fonseca-Wollheim's notes continue, "Woolf takes a poem by Robert Creeley, poised at the very point where desire spills over into possessiveness - and...tips the balance of power in favor of the female object of desire. Three cellos and three double basses stand in for the male viewer, dumbstruck by lust, while three female singers reflect and refract the male gaze in an uproar of vocal virtuosity." The three soloists on this recording offer up a wide diversity of musical characters. Devon Guthrie and Elise Quagliata hail from the opera world, while Nancy Anderson, an award-winning Broadway actress and singer, lends her flair and dramatic musicianship to the works.
Finally, Woolf boldly reconfigures Leonard Cohen's darkly ironic Everybody Knows and foreboding Who By Fire in haunting new arrangements of these modern classics. Combining the three women's voices and Haimovitz's humanistic cello, Woolf captures Cohen's deep-voiced essence in a kaleidoscopic expansion of the original songs' colors and timbres.
Read more about Luna Pearl Woolf here.