Lincoln Center, august 2010

Will Robin, Seated Ovation
Mandag, 16. august

Bach's Jesu, meine Freude, the apotheosis of choral polyphony, opened the program. Under Paul Hillier's precise conducting, the Ars Nova Copenhagen produced a wonder of crystal-clear textures, with crisp articulations perfectly matched to Alice Tully's newish acoustics. The ensemble sang with remarkable balance and great flow under Hillier's guidance, endowing Bach's sweet cadences with just the right amount of rubato. (...)
Ars Nova Copenhagen [gave] the most exquisite performance of micropolyphonic Ligeti I have ever heard. That might seem like a subcategory of a subcategory, but it really does speak to the ensemble's virtuosic blend and Hillier's careful conducting (and, probably more importantly, rehearsing). Ligeti's works of the '60s, like Lux aeterna, the Requiem, Lontano, and Atmospheres, are typically referred to as brash, avant-garde, space-age, hyper-electronic. But to quote an old mantra of Schoenberg's, "My music is not modern, it is just badly played." With the refined control of the Ars Nova, Lux aeterna became a sea of lush colors, the dissonances ethereal rather than harsh. The score of Lux aeterna reveals a careful scientific exercise in polyphonic relationships, but in this performance it was something entirely extraordinary.