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David Lang

Publisher: G. Schirmer

the little match girl passion (for chorus) (2007)
Red Poppy
Chorus a cappella / Chorus plus 1 instrument
Year Composed
35 Minutes
Programme Note
David Lang the little match girl passion (for chorus) (2007)
Related works:
The Little Match Girl Passion for solo voices
The Little Match Girl Passion for chorus

  • Ensemble
    Los Angeles Master Chorale
    Grant Gershon
    Cantaloupe Music:
Lang's Little Match Girl Passion won the Pulitzer prize for music in 2008. It was revived here by the Northern Sinfonia to mark the commencement of Lang's tenure as Composer in Association at the Sage. Lang is an eye-catching appointment. He is the co-founder (with composers Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe) of the New York contemporary music agency Bang on a Can, and as part of his tenure is due to write a new opera to be staged at the Sage in the 2011/12 season. If it contains anything of the distilled drama concentrated within the Little Match Girl Passion, it should be quite an event. Lang borrows Bach's format of entwining a tragic narrative with a reflective commentary; though the vocal writing owes more to medieval plainchant and the pulse of minimalism than Lutheran chorales. Ironically, given the work's secular inspiration, it is the plangent repletion of the expiring match seller's prayer "Have mercy, My God" that forms the most affecting sequence.
Alfred Hickling, The Guardian,05/05/2010
David Lang's goal here was to write an entirely secular Passion: instead of telling Jesus' last days, he would find a story in which an innocent suffered and died and treat the tale with the dignity of a sacred work...Mr Lang's achievement is in yoking together opposites so thoroughly that they seem inextricable, even though, logically, they they should hardly work together at all. His libretto, which he wrote himself, alternates among stripped-down, poetic imagery, prose description in grimy detail and fragments from Bach's "St matthew Passion". The score sounds simple and neo-medieval at first, but further listening reveals layers of harmonic and contrapuntal complexity....
Allan Kozinn, The New York Times,31/05/2009
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