Hear selections from new releases with our weekly Choral Featured Album Fridays at 11 a.m. central on the Choral Stream.
This week on the Choral Featured Album, we present William Hill: The Raven, the new release from the Colorado Symphony and Colorado Symphony Chorus. Read about the work below (from the Naxos website):
The Raven was commissioned by the Colorado Symphony and Chorus and premiered on March 27 and 28, 2015, with David Lockington conducting. The text was chosen because of its beautiful use of the English language, its musical flow and character, and particularly for its rather ambiguous and thought provoking exploration of human loss. The Raven's entire eighteen stanzas are used, and Wagner's leitmotif technique links important aspects of the poem with musical gestures and the repeated 'nevermore.' A sad and nostalgic little waltz occurs in the first stanza as our hero remembers and then tries to forget his 'lost Lenore.' Fragments of this theme recur, alternately haunting and then sarcastically taunting him as he navigates the emotional twists and turns of the poem. A heartbeat motive is used throughout, sometimes deep in the texture, sometimes front and center, much as our own heartbeats reflect states of calm or excitement and instability. Poe introduces the bird with a bit of humor, and this is reflected in the music as the subject's emotions change from curiosity to sarcasm then madness and finally resignation as he interacts with this (imaginary?) visitor. The musical language of The Raven is challenging for both the chorus and orchestra: chromaticism, quickly changing meter and tempo, irregular rhythm, very dense angular writing, and neo-romantic/impressionist textures.