Magazine article The New Yorker

Goings on about Town

Magazine article The New Yorker

Goings on about Town

Article excerpt

Manfred Eicher, the visionary record producer behind the ECM label, has a knack for creating albums that exude spiritual beneficence: every element of production, from the choice of music and the quality of the performances to the sober liner notes and stark black-and-white photography, contributes to the effect. His latest project, "Morimur," a radical reinterpretation of Bach's Partita in D Minor for Solo Violin, recently shot to the upper reaches of Amazon.com's best-seller list, right up there with Enya and Britney Spears--a serious-music phenomenon the likes of which hasn't been seen since a decade or so ago, when people stopped their cars on the side of the road to listen to Gorecki's doomy Symphony No. 3 wafting out of their radios.

"Morimur" (the title, which means "We die," comes from a fragment of a Latin epitaph, "We die in Christ"), a collaboration between the Baroque violinist Christoph Poppen and four singers from the Hilliard Ensemble, a renowned British early-music group, may be the ultimate Eicher product. Recorded in a resonant Austrian monastery, it intersperses the movements of the famous Partita with fragments of Lutheran chorales that may have inspired them; the mix evokes a traditional church service, from the opening Scripture readings to the prayers and benediction. …

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