3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
brilliant contemporary choral music,
This review is from: Tristis Est Enima Mea (Audio CD)
As is, there is very little information about this CD on amazon.co.uk, so I thought I'd give y'all the track list...
Wolfgang Rihm - Vigilia: 7 Passion Motets (excerpts)
1. Tristis est anima mea
2. Ecce vidimus eum
3. Velum templi scissum est
4. Tenebrae factae sunt
5. Responsorio delle tenebre a sei voci
6. Lamentation of the Virgin
Joanne Metcalf - Il nome del bel fior
7. Maria I
8. Quivi e la rosa
9. Maria II
10. Il nome del bel fior
11. Maria III
12. Io sono amore angelico
13. Maria IV
Wolfgang Rihm's '7 Passion Motets' are absolutely wonderful examples of modern choral writing. Beautiful melodic lines that meander through rolling polyphonic harmonies, always moving unpredictably from dissonance to consonance; major triad to cluster chord. Extraordinarily varied but consistently interesting pieces.
Salvatore Sciarrino's plain-chant-inspired 'Responsorio delle tenebre a sei voci' is a glorious, spiritual, microtonal essay based on a single tonal centre around which semitones and quarter-tones shift and colour the static but beautiful melody.
Ivan Moody's 'Lamentation of the Virgin' is rather different - this piece (and, as far as I can gather, much of the rest of his output) is very much in the line with the work of the "Holy Minimalists" (eg. Arvo Pärt and John Tavener - with whom Moody studied). It contains some gorgeous chord progressions, striking neo-Medieval ideas, and some incredible solo and duo lines.
Joanne Metcalf's 'Il nome del bel fior' is in several movements - a mixture of (mostly very difficult) solos, duos, trios, group pieces; and a combination of religious texts, melodies in Italian, and quasi-improvisatory word-less lines. This is a really lush ambient work.
The performers on this disc are Singer Pur (who I haven't heard before) and the Hilliard Ensemble (who I certainly have heard before...), and the quality of the singing is absolutely superb. The complex harmonies of the Rihm, the purity of the Sciarrino, they do everything perfectly. Brilliantly executed performances from both groups.
This is such a beautiful and interesting CD, it's such a pity that it can be difficult to get hold of. At the time of writing, there are a couple available 2nd-hand (which are amazingly cheap), but they seem to be quite rare. I got hold of it for the Sciarrino, fell in love with the Rihm, and discovered two other great composers previously unknown to me - oh, the wonders of Amazon...