I've been listening to this over and over again for the last week. Hans Abrahamsen's piece for soprano and orchestra "Let me tell you" is based on a novel by Paul Griffiths that tries to tell the story of Ophelia in Hamlet in her own words. And by "in her own words", Griffiths means "using only the 481 words that Ophelia utters during the play". Abrahamsen's text is extracted from the novel.
At the centre of this performance is the remarkable Canadian artist Barbara Hannigan. Hannigan is not just a singer of astounding stature. She is also a pianist and conductor. She utterly animates this haunting and difficult score. The music, often using the higher voices of the orchestra, veers from ethereal through operatic, into stammering hysterical madness, and ultimately into oblivion (“Snow falls. So: I will go on in the snow. I will have my hope with me.”). The tiny vocabulary creates a strangely allusive text in which Ophelia tries to tell us, tries to appear, but remains an insubstantial revenant.
It's astonishing. You should be ordering the album now.
This post is a live recording, in beautiful sound, taken from the radio. So you can marvel, in addition, at the sheer flawless perfection of the performance, done with no retakes, no breaks. Make no mistake, this is going to be album of the year. Go get!
Abrahamsen : Let me tell you (2013)
Barbara Hannigan, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Andris Nelsons
Broadcast 03.07.2015, text after Shakespeare by Paul Griffiths
Download from Mediafire