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Norman Records

John Zorn - The Alchemist

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The Alchemist by John Zorn

Press release

Pauline Kim, Jesse Mills, David Fulmer, Jay Campbell, Jane Sheldon, Mellissa Hughes, Kirsten Sollek.

The Alchemist, a True and Faithful Chronicling of the Esoteric Spiritual Conferences and Concomitant Hermetic Actions performed by Her Majesty’s Alchemist Dr John Dee and one Edward Kelley invoking the Nine Hierarchies of Angelic Orders to Visible Appearance, Zorn’s string quartets are some of the most important modern contributions to the canon and a new Zorn quartet is truly a cause for celebration. His sixth quartet is inspired by the hermetic Angelic actions of John Dee and his mystical medium Edward Kelley and contains some of the most intense contrapuntal writing he has yet achieved. Replete with the procedures of distillation, calcination, crystallization, sublimation, purification, rotation as well numerology, prayers, canons, contrapuntal complexity and the ghost of a familiar fugue, this music is part séance, part science, and all Zorn—in short, a trip through an alchemist’s laboratory!

Performed here by Zorn’s own Quartet, this is the definitive recording of this important and powerful string quartet, already considered a modern classic. Also included is Zorn’s mystical response to the ancient Newgrange sacred site in Ireland, a beautiful and evocative setting of Amergin, one of the oldest Celtic sacred texts, written for three female voices.

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