A chamber opera to a libretto by Karen Whiteson
Lourdes Ambriz, soprano
John Oakley-Tucker, baritone
The Arditti Quartet
Steven Schick, percussion
Virginia Sublett, soprano
Carol Plantamura, mezzo-soprano
Issac Langen, tenor
Rand Steiger, conductor
Hilda Paredes is among the foremost younger-generation Mexican composers. Schooled in London where she now lives, Paredes studied with Harrison Birtwistle, Franco Donatoni and Peter Maxwell-Davies.
Receiving a commission from the Arts Council of Great Britain for a chamber opera and working together with British poet Karen Whiteson, Paredes composed The Seventh Seed centered around the Persephone legend with allusions to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Lookinglass. The action takes place in a contemporary basement flat full of an enormous variety of artifacts from all ages and cultures; everything covered in dust. This is Pluto’s world, where he has the task of cataloging these items. Persephone, who cannot remember her past, has fallen there through a rabbit hole and serves as Pluto’s maid. If Pluto can seduce her to eat the seven pomegranate seeds, Persephone will become permanently enslaved to the Underworld.
The Arts Council commission required the use of modest forces–scored for soprano and baritone with a small chorus. The rich instrumental fabric is woven by string quartet with percussion. This recording was made by the international forces assembled for its U.S. premiere in San Diego–the Arditti Quartet and percussionist Steven Schick, with Mexican soprano Lourdes Ambriz and British baritone John Oakley-Tucker, and California E.A.R. Unit co-founder Rand Steiger.
Permutaciones’ structure is partly determined by the composer and partly left to the choice of the performer. Fixed sections of the piece are joined by several “possible” links which vary in rhythmic intensity–the choices made for these links produce very different dramatic shapes for the work. Two realizations of Paredes’ Permutaciones for solo violin complete the disc, performed by Irvine Arditti.
The authoritative performances were recorded in the presence of the composer. Liner notes by former Arditti Quartet second violinist David Alberman and full libretto included.