March 26, 2014
What do Purcell and Leonard Cohen have in common?
In her most ambitious and surprising project to date, Christina Pluhar and her genre-defying band show that switching from Baroque to jazz to bluegrass within a single piece of music is as easy as setting an iPod to shuffle.
On their new album Music for a while, L’Arpeggiata traces the natural progression that connects the 17th-century arias of English composer Henry Purcell to the beating heart of most forms of popular music today. With hauntingly beautiful voices building in intensity over repeated ground bass, it’s no wonder arias like Dido’s Lament (When I Am Laid In Earth) have stuck around, as deeply moving today as when Purcell first penned them in the 1600s.
“We wished to underline the extraordinary modernity of Purcell’s music by constantly moving between the centuries in the harmonies and styles of the improvisations,” Pluhar explains. “The bass lines and melodies composed by Purcell remain intact, but the improvisatory style of the instruments suddenly switches centuries.”
Pluhar invited countertenor Philippe Jaroussky to let his inner jazzman shine in eternal favourites like O Solitude and the title track Music for a while. The Baroque musicians of L’Arpeggiata welcomed into the fold jazz guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel and returning reedman Gianluigi Trovesi to do what L’Arpeggiata does best: create meeting points in sound that are universal and timeless, as daring as they are inevitable.
The music flows from the glorious ‘Alleluias’ of Purcell’s Evening Hymn to a bonus-track cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah… As only L’Arpeggiata could play it.
Music for a while is out now.