Thursday, May 05, 2016

"Mary Magdalen" opens in Boston

NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH: Ludovico Ensemble closes season with two sensitive premieres (Aaron Keebaugh, Boston Classical Review).
After a hiatus, the Ludovico Ensemble returned to action this season with several concerts that largely explored the music of Marti Epstein and Mischa Salkind-Pearl. Monday night at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brookline, the ensemble offered world premieres by both composers to conclude the season on a sensitive note.


The most ear-catching music of the evening came in the premiere of Epstein’s Mary Magdalen, also scored for cimbalom and soprano.

Cast in six movements, the piece is a setting of excerpts from the Gospel of Mary and other Gnostic Gospels that tell of Mary Magdalene’s important place among Christ’s disciples.

Epstein’s score is beautiful in its simplicity, with shimmering textures and a serene, slowly unfolding melodic line. Some of the most haunting music came in the sections where Mary is addressing the disciples. “The Nature of Wisdom,” whereby Mary explains her vision, was underscored by a series of ringing overtones.

Soprano Ashe sang the lines with a soft elegance and a distant radiance while Tolle produced a color wheel of sounds on the cimbalom to give Epstein’s piece a memorable first performance. One hopes it will have many more.