Joel Frederiksen follows the success of his 2011 album Rose of Sharon – a celebration of 18th-century American music that landed in the Top Ten on Billboard’s Classical chart and on critics’ year-end lists – with Requiem for a Pink Moon: An Elizabethan Tribute to Nick Drake. The latest project by Frederiksen and the Ensemble Phoenix Munich takes them all the way back in time to… 1972, the year the late British troubadour Nick Drake released his third and final album, Pink Moon. Initially, the album garnered a small amount of critical attention, but it was not until decades after Drake’s death that it received widespread public and critical acclaim. Today, the sparse and unadorned tracks of Pink Moon are regarded by many fans and critics as the greatest efforts of a tragically short career.
On this personal tribute, Frederiksen uses the form of a Requiem, interspersing portions of the Gregorian Mass with Drake’s songs, arranged for Renaissance instruments, to reveal the 20th-century songwriter as a modern-day Thomas Campion whose works speak directly and powerfully to the human condition. Drake’s was an art filled with melancholy, a feeling and a concept that unites him with the singer-songwriters of the Elizabethan age. As his friend and arranger Robert Kirby noted, “Nick was in some strange way out of time. If he would have lived in the 17th Century, at the Elizabethan Court, together with composers like Dowland or William Byrd, he would have been alright. Nick was elegant, honest, a lost romantic – and at the same time so cool. In brief: the perfect Elizabethan.”