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WORKS: Voices of Light
PERFORMER: Susan Narucki (soprano), Corrie Pronk (alto), Frank Hameleers (tenor), Henk van Heijnsbergen (bass-baritone); Anonymous 4, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic & Choir/Steven Mercurio
Voices of Light is a walk through the world of Joan of Arc. Richard Einhorn’s seventy-minute oratorio for solo vocal group, four solo singers, solo violin, gamba, choir and orchestra, is inspired by Carl Dreyer’s 1928 silent classic The Passion of Joan of Arc. The composer, also well known for his work as a record producer – on works from Meredith Monk to Yo-Yo Ma – has concocted a 15-section work which alternates between the positively beguiling and the frankly maddening. The libretto is drawn from texts by Joan herself and medieval mystics, primarily female, written (and sung) in ancient languages; the musical vocabulary will be familiar to fans of Philip Glass, Pärt and Górecki.


The beguiling sections are those taken by Anonymous 4, who represent the voice of Joan of Arc. Their accuracy of pitch and purity of tone in passages reminiscent of Pärt is quite wonderful. But Einhorn, with his frequent Glass-like dependence on reiterated chords and a slow harmonic rhythm, cannot find the musical means to characterise the texts dramatically. Soprano Susan Narucki is the best of the vocal soloists. ‘Illness’, perhaps the most moving section, has Naomi Hirschfeld as an accomplished gamba soloist. Sound balance is uneven. Annette Morreau