Friday, February 24, 2006

St Mark

I'm going to try to describe Osvaldo Golijov's The Passion According to St. Mark, performed at Barbican Hall and conducted by Maria Guinand. It isn't going to be easy.

You start with a string orchestra about the right size for a Vivaldi concerto, then you add a lot of bongos and other drums, a guitar, a coloratura soprano (Anne-Carolyn Bird), people calling themselves "vocalists," a couple of dancers, a Bulgarian chorus.... No, they're not really Bulgarian, but they sound exactly like a Bulgarian chorus I once heard. They're Venezuelan and sing with an open throated, sometimes crude but very emotional style.

I said Ayre was klesmer. This is the Buena Vista Social Club with chorus.

This should not be mistaken for criticism. I'm just trying to give you the idea of it. It's very intense, the poor man's death of Jesus. Jesus was a poor man when seen from our point of view.

Golijov doesn't care where the idea came from, he just uses it. He is world music all wrapped up in one person. The package he creates is very involving and moving. You can listen to bits on Amazon.

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