ERIKS ESENVALDS (b.1977): Passion and Resurrection for Soprano, Chorus and Orchestra, Solo Choral: Evening, Night Prayer, A drop in the ocean, Legend of the walled-in woman, Long Road.
Catalogue Number: 04M092
Reference: CDA 67796
Description: Another composer of superb, original yet approachable religious music from the apparently limitless supply of such provided by the Baltic countries in recent decades. The Latvian Esenvalds is a singer-composer, with an insider;s flexibility in handling choral resources in new, yet familiar, ways. The music is basically tonal, with modal inflections, and as much chromaticism and dissonance as required by the emotional demands of the texts. The unconventional Passion uses various Biblical and liturgical texts to place the story in context and reflect upon it. A fragment of 16th-century chant anchors the sections of the work, which range from the ethereally meditative to almost operatically dramatic; the subtle contribution of the string orchestra is to provide commentary and counterpoint, and a haze of dissonant texture like a halo around the voices. Settings of secular, but spiritual, texts occupy a similar realm of harmonically shifting, ambiguous tonality, while A drop in the ocean, commemorating Mother Teresa, showcases the composer's distinctive use of extended vocal techniques as illumination to the choral textures of the Orthodox Church. The Legend draws on folk material both for subject-matter and in its evocation of odd vocal ornamentations and vocal glissandi, while the very recent Long Road is a simple hymn-like madrigal. Texts included. Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Polyphony, Britten Sinfonia; Stephen Layton.