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March 7, 2020: George Benjamin's "Into the Little Hill" at 92Y with Talea Ensemble

Lucy Dhegrae & Charlotte Mundy, voices

Talea Ensemble, conducted by James Baker

Into the Little Hill (2006) by George Benjamin

“INTO THE LITTLE HILL was commissioned by the Festival d'Automne à Paris, with contributions from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foudation; Opéra National de Paris; and Ensemble Modern, with contributions from the Forberg-Schneider Foundation Martin and I wanted to tell our lyric tale in the most direct and authentic way possible, not an easy task in the age of TV and cinema. Our solution - where the story-telling as well as the multiple roles are shared between just two singers - acknowledges at all times the artificial nature of sung drama, while still permitting dialogue and characterisation. Occasionally, particularly in heated moments, it approaches the naturalistic. Martin’s text remains faithful to the traditional myth of the Ratcatcher of Hamelin, though it evokes disturbing contemporary resonances too. It also reflects upon the power of music as well as its exploitation in today’s world. … The orchestration employs some highly unusual timbres, ranging from bass flute and cimbalom to banjo and basset-horns. The resultant sonority is often discreet and always, I hope, transparent, so that the vocal lines can occupy the foreground without struggle. Above all I wanted to embed these lines as clearly as possible into the harmonic environment that surrounds them. In this fusion, I believe, lies a crucial expressive resource on the lyric stage.”

—George Benjamin