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#1 Amazon Classical Download Charts, Dec 2018
#6 UK Classical Charts, Nov 2018
Featured on BBC Radio 3 Record Review and BBC Radio 3 In Tune, 2018
‘I think it’s quite likely that if you…listen to the first track you will be, as I was, instantly hooked by the bewitching sound of Papagena…this is a disc to cheer your spirits in the depth of winter’ (John Quinn, music-webinternational.com)
‘…tones as pure and bright as light shining through stained glass…There is much to listen to on this recording, which is much more than “Christmas listening” (Classical Iconclast)
The all-female vocal ensemble Papagena makes its debut on SOMM Recordings with The Darkest Midnight, a sublime collection of songs for winter from the Middle Ages to the modern era embracing the secular and the sacred.
Casting a dark glamour all of its own, the bleakness of winter has prompted some of the most bewitching, brittle and bright songs. Alongside traditional Christmas anthems can be found legendary singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell’s The River in an achingly melancholic arrangement and American composer Don Macdonald, whose When the Earth Stands Still is movingly poignant and still, twilit and shining.
Celebratory songs marking the Christmas season – the exuberant In dulci Jubilo, burnished, glowing harmonies of Angelus ad virginem, sublimely serene Es ist ein Ros entsprungen and infectious Shchedryk/Hark How the Bells from Ukraine – are heard alongside lilting Irish songs from antiquity and the charming Scottish lullaby Balulalow. Songs from England, Germany, Norway and ‘Toi le coeur de la rose’ from Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges round off a recording that includes first performances of eight arrangements and is marked by sheer beauty of sound.
(track samples below)