Osvaldo Golijov - La Pasión Segun San Marcos
My favorite listening at the moment is Osvaldo Golijov's "St Mark's Passion". In the interest of full disclosure: the existing recording (which I downloaded at EMusic) is a sub-par recording - I had to boost it up on my own in Audacity by as much as 9db in some places and then reburn it, just to hear the dang thing - but I hear they are doing a performance at Lincoln Center in 2006, which I'm sure will be recorded as well. This particular version may be slightly lacking in hi-fi, but it is a recording of some truly fantastic original music nonetheless.
St Mark's is the crudest of the gospels in both its language and its portrayal of the passion and the agony, so I think it is well suited to the disparate washes of diasporAfrican and panAmerican and Iberian folkloric traditional musics that are the foundation of this work. This is art music based on a primitive source. It's gorgeous. It pleases me to see batá featured so prominently on contemporary music like this.
review by Anastasia Tsioulcas:
Taking as his inspiration Bach's famous Passion settings, Massachusetts-based composer Osvaldo Golijov -- born in a Jewish community in Argentina -- creates a sprawling work that is part music, part theater and part dance. Golijov gives audiences a new vision of Christ's death that embraces Bahian Brazilian drums, the Afro-Brazilian stringed percussion instrument berimbau, West African call-and-response singing, Cuban song, Argentine tango, Spanish flamenco and Jewish cantillation. The genuine drama and joy comes shining through this world-premiere recording.