About the album
The story of Mary Magdalene has been a source of comfort for many women, and research has shown that medieval ballads about Mary Magdalene are often sung by single mothers. Young women who were out¬casts must have found some measure of consolation in the songs about Mary, who bore children with her fa¬ther, her brother and a priest, but was cleansed of sin after doing penance in the wilderness for many years. But the possibility should not be overlooked that the songs could have been sung with a sarcastic undertone, becoming an unassailable and liberating weapon when there was no other recourse for rebelling against unjust treatment.
The Mary Magdalene ballads, found in Solør, Telemark and Gudbrandsdalen, along with other folk tunes and improvisations, form the musical basis of the vocal element, where Sinikka Langeland uses the recitative form to tell the story while surrounded by works of Johann Sebastian Bach. The instrumental music is meant to intensify the emotions and atmosphere of the story although it is in itself, of course, some of the most beautiful music ever written.
Bach/Vivaldi’s well-known Concerto in G Major, “Christ lag in Todesbanden”, BWV 718 and “Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr”, BWV 676 are played by Kåre Nordstoga on the famous Wagner organ in the Nidaros Cathedral, and Bach’s Cello Suite in D Major, BWV 1012 (here in G Major) is played on the viola by Lars Anders Tomter. Langeland also improvises vocally to two of Bach’s works. Between the texts that describe Jesus appearing to his disciples after the resurrection, she plays a 15-string kantele.
The recording was made in the Nidaros Cathedral, and represents the continuation of a project of many years’ standing to place Norwegian religious folk songs side by side with organ chorales by Bach, using the same hymn as a basis. Here Langeland is taking a freer approach, but is still pairing folk songs with works by Bach, as on her earlier recording of songs about the Virgin Mary. Marias song was released by the ECM label in 2009. This new release presents a fascinating and multifaceted portrait of the most prominent woman in the Christian world after the Virgin Mary.
SINIKKA LANGELAND SONG/KANTELE
Sinikka Langeland was born in Kirkenær, Solør, in 1961, and is one of the most distinctive folk musicians of our time. She has brought the Skogfinn (Forest Finn) culture into focus through her research, reinterpretations and presentations. She plays the kantele, the Finnish national instrument, but is also known as an interpreter of folk songs such as rune songs and kveding (a traditional vocal technique). After having discovered some folk variants of “Kyrie” and other religious folk songs, she initiated a long-term project of juxtaposing these with organ chorales and other works by Johann Sebastian Bach that are based on the same hymns. This fascinating combination has resulted in five records, and presents an entirely new musical landscape. “She sounds like a whole orchestra with her remarkable vocal and kantele technique,” one journalist noted.
11Mary went to the source
12Fantasia sopra 'Christ lag in Todesbanden', BWV 718
13Mary cometh to the sepulchre
14Concerto in G Major, BWV 592 I. Allegro
15Concerto in G Major, BWV 592 II. Grave / Mary and the angels
16Noli me tangere / Mary Magdalene sees Jesus
17Concerto in G Major, BWV 592 III. Presto
18Jesus shows himself to the disciples / Jesus leaves the disciples
19Suite No. 6 in G Major, BWV 1012 I. Prélude / Mary comforts the disciples
110Suite No. 6 in G Major, BWV 1012 II. Allemande
111Peter and Mary
112Suite No. 6 in G Major, BWV 1012 III. Courante
113Tell us the things that you remember
114Suite No. 6 in G Major, BWV 1012 IV. Sarabande
116Suite No. 6 in G Major, BWV 1012 V. Gavotte I / VI. Gavotte II
117Suite No. 6 in G Major, BWV 1012 VII. Gigue
119Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’, BWV 676