Here’s a fun proposition. A program comprising works depicting either the Virgin Mary or Mary Magdalene through time, conceived of and executed with flair by the soprano Anna Prohaska and violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Both are thoughtful, entirely game musicians, and their passion for the concept and material is evident. 

Maria Mater Meretrix

Taking as their theme the archetypes of saint, mother, and whore, Prohaska and Kopatchinskaja traverse many periods and styles in their exploration of the two Marys: Holst, Eisler, von Bingen, Kurtág, and Haydn are just some of the composers jostling for your attention. Undoubtedly the risk for some listeners will be an experience that verges on the musical patchwork, and for some Maria Mater Meretrix is easily dismissed as just another concept album. For this reviewer, the particular alchemy of Prohaska and Kopatchinskaja override any such reservations, and some of the works gathered here are given truly revelatory readings. 

Take Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments for one, selections of which are threaded through the track list. They pack a punch despite – or is it because of? – their lengths...