Erkki-Sven Tuur weighs in with two compositions, "L'ombra della croce" (2014) and "Psalmody" (1993/2011), the latter making use of the choir, both scored quite nicely for the string orchestra in the former case, full orchestra in the latter. They have a post-modern meets early music way about them, with perhaps a bit of the neoclassical influence of Stravinsky. Towards the end of "Psalmody" there is a very nicely contrapuntal post-minimal jauntiness that provides a feeling of movement and energy, with the distinct hint of Reich and Riley influences transposed to a new plane.
They have a very ambient feel to them in the spacious sense, partially thanks to Manfred Eicher's lush sound staging, but they have a periodicity and continuity about them that point both backwards to Gesualdo and forwards to the present day.
The two short pieces-arrangements of Gesualdo help us contextualize it all and via the string orchestra allow us to hear Gesualdo in a kind of new light, as a figure who oftimes resonates with a near-modern sense of expressive dissonance, but also as an advanced master of the contrapuntal part writing in his time.
Brett Dean gives us a rather monumental "Carlo" (1997) for choir and string orchestra. It is an impression of the world of Gesualdo as he lived in it both musically and otherwise. The work moves from an arrangement, then excerpted bits of Gesualdo's madrigal "Moro Lasso" in a vocal-orchestral collage that traverses the ages to end up in our modern era and the sound of its new music, Dean style. It is quite impressive to hear, a remarkable work on many levels.
So there we have it. The album gives us much to savor and yet another take on how the past can energize and help rebuild and extend our present-day modern musical world. It is a joy to hear! Very recommended.
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