The young soprano engaged by Vänskä for these performances, Nicole Cabell, displayed Thursday night at Orchestra Hall not only a remarkably rich sound that was firm and full, from the low notes of the second movement all the way up to high G, but also a close identification with the text, which speaks so tellingly of mortality and redemption.
November 3, 2006
“But Vanska, the Minnesota Orchestra and soprano Nicole Cabell - the winner of last year's high-profile BBC "Singer of the World" competition - made it clear that this is a work best experienced in concert.
There are few deeper sorrows than that of a mother in mourning, and it is such sadness that suffuses Gorecki's piece. While Cabell's rich voice was ideal for its demands - dark, yet hopeful, immersed in its mood yet transcending it - this was as much a showcase for orchestra as soloist, particularly during the hypnotic closing of its first movement, when the cellos and basses whispered of loss and grief.”
November 3, 2006
... it was Nicole Cabell who held my full attention as her melodious soprano voice sang the haunting notes of Henryk Gorecki's "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs." Composed in 1976, the Polish writer's three hymns bring together a 15th century lamentation, a 20th century prayer written on a prison wall by an 18-year-old, and a poem based on folk poetry using part of a church hymn. It is hard to describe the power of these three movements. Whatever Gorecki intended, Cabell (under the direction of Osmo Vanska) teased out deep sorrow from the notes on the page. Her repetition (in Polish) of the line, "He lies in his grave and I know not where though I keep asking people everywhere," was enough to bring tears to your eyes.
These songs were pieces of maternal pain in which mothers and children create a bond, despite the horrors and deep wounds that separate them. I have stood at the bedside of parents saying goodbye to dying children and even wept at the loss of a daughter stillborn with my wife. But Gorecki somehow has managed to capture in the combination of words and music the deep searing pain of a child taken too soon. Cabell, who won the 2005 BBC World Singing Competition in Cardiff, was like no singer I've heard yet in Minnesota. She pulled me into the music in a way I rarely have been before and reminded me of the power of music to capture human emotion, desire, and deep sorrow.
Brian T. Hartley