15 Songs, 49 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The post-minimalist composer David Lang—a member and co-founder of the New York–based musical organization Bang on a Can—might be best known for The Little Match Girl Passion, a choral piece that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. Love Fail, a vocal composition that received its first public performance in 2012, reimagines the legend of Tristan and Isolde. Lang draws on texts by Marie De France, Gottfried von Strassburg, Richard Wagner, and others; he also incorporates the precise prose of Lydia Davis. Love Fail references the madrigal tradition; the Early Music female vocal quartet Anonymous 4 are the performers on this 2014 release. The gorgeous opener, “He Was and She Was,” has the riveting melodicism if not the tempo of a finely crafted pop hit. “Forbidden Subjects,” with words by Davis, provides a tonal shift; the piece details the movement of thought and feeling in a self-conscious, contemporary way. Love Fail closes with “Mild, Light,” which riffs on lyrics from Wagner’s famous “Liebestod” aria from the opera Tristan and Isolde. The use of bells lends the track a ritual-like tone.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The post-minimalist composer David Lang—a member and co-founder of the New York–based musical organization Bang on a Can—might be best known for The Little Match Girl Passion, a choral piece that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. Love Fail, a vocal composition that received its first public performance in 2012, reimagines the legend of Tristan and Isolde. Lang draws on texts by Marie De France, Gottfried von Strassburg, Richard Wagner, and others; he also incorporates the precise prose of Lydia Davis. Love Fail references the madrigal tradition; the Early Music female vocal quartet Anonymous 4 are the performers on this 2014 release. The gorgeous opener, “He Was and She Was,” has the riveting melodicism if not the tempo of a finely crafted pop hit. “Forbidden Subjects,” with words by Davis, provides a tonal shift; the piece details the movement of thought and feeling in a self-conscious, contemporary way. Love Fail closes with “Mild, Light,” which riffs on lyrics from Wagner’s famous “Liebestod” aria from the opera Tristan and Isolde. The use of bells lends the track a ritual-like tone.

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