MEREDITH MONK Mercy

Ostensibly a response to watching a Palestinian father and son fall prey to crossfire on the Gaza Strip, mercy journeys beyond grieving or anger to a meditative state that hints at both but submits to neither. The style is coolly contrapuntal: the opening “braid” unfolds like a slow vocal fugue then grows more agitated around the twominute mark as the piano enters and a woman protests across the musical line. Or ist it protest? More voices join in and the mellifluous accompaniment helps turn the tables for what sounds more like celebration. This energetic ambiguity is typical of Monk. … mercy appears to reflect elements of Reich-style minimalism, Satie-style economy, early vocal music and rustic harmonic twists typical of Bartók, Janáĉek, Enescu and the like. The modest resources used – a handful of voices, clarinets, tuned percussion, synthesiser, melodica, violin, viola – meld or converse unpremeditated, much as they would in a folk group. mercy is an outgrowth both of Monk’s maturity and the maturing musical trends that surround her. Like its subject, it is very much of our time. I was very taken with it. (Rob Cowan / Gramophone)

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