This magnificent piece, which will be a highlight of the month-long festival to honour Mr Golijov that opens at Lincoln Centre in New York on January 22nd, was commissioned by Helmuth Rilling, a conductor, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Bach's death in 2000. In less capable hands, a large-scale work featuring flamenco, tango, Yiddish melismas and Gregorian chant—using an eclectic range of performers from violinists to Cuban drummers—would be a disjointed, multicultural mishmash. In fact it works brilliantly. Composers often borrow from indigenous traditions, but Mr Golijov preserves disparate musical identities within a tight narrative framework. He explains that people want to hear a story, so, for example, he uses flamenco—the music of the Spanish conquistadors—to represent Jesus's betrayal.
From this week's The Economist
With thanks to reader Bernard Tuyttens for this story.
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