BBC Music Magazine 4-Star Review of Hymns for Private Use

Hymns for Private Use
Nico Muhly: Hymns for Private Use; Annika Socolofsky: so much more
Shara Nova (soprano); Akropolis Reed Quintet
Bright Shiny Things BSTC 0180    37:44 mins


The Akropolis reed quintet has rightly won plaudits as a sonically daring ensemble who specialise in performing new works with charisma and integrity. Comprised of oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone and bassoon, the quintet has a wonderfully fresh sound which proves an ideal match here for the mellifluous voice of Shara Nova.

The album’s title work is a five-movement song cycle by Nico Muhly on sacred texts drawn from early English sources. The quintet is well suited to Muhly’s rich score which evokes something of the ancient in among bursts of sensuous harmony and shimmering minimalistic textures. Nova, classically trained but best known as the songwriter and lead singer of the American band My Bright Diamond, gives an entirely credible performance here. Her voice can bloom richly but is often tenderly restrained, while she brings a crystalline clarity to the occasional stratospheric highs of Muhly’s score.

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