Mala punica Recording

James Weeks (conductor), EXAUDI, Hortus Ensemble

1. Walled Garden I – Mala Punica: Quae est ista
2. Mala Punica: Ego flos campi
3. Mala Punica: Ficus protulit
4. Mala Punica: Hortus conclusus – Walled Garden II – Mala Punica: Veni in hortum meum
5. Mala Punica: Dilectus meus
6. Mala Punica: Descendi
7. Mala Punica: Donec aspiret dies – Walled Garden III 

This is a seductive thing: lush, finespun music by James Weeks, performed by his peerless vocal ensemble Exaudi and the excellent instrumentalists of the Netherlands-based Hortus Ensemble – artfully recorded, too, by the Winter & Winter label. Mala punica (meaning pomegranate) is a set of eight pieces based on the Egyptian and Mesopotamian love poems of the Song of Songs. Walled Garden comprises three pieces for strings and flute trios that weave around the voices to create the image of an enclosed aural garden where beautiful sounds can grow. Weeks homes in on horticultural imagery in the texts so we get vine tendrils and flowers waving in the breeze, all treated with a close, gentle sensuality that shimmers and beguiles but never gets lurid. There’s a refinement and definition to the writing that sounds just right in Exaudi’s chiselled-but-definitely-not-chaste delivery.

The Guardian


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