by George Tysh
“Granum Sinapis” for a cappella choir, the first of three works by contemporary French composer Pascal Dusapin on this disc, is based on a text by the 14th century German mystic, Meister Eckhart, which reads, “It is light, it is brightness,/It is darkness too,/It is unnamed,/It is unknown.” However, the music seems to set up a meeting of minds across 400 years: 16th century architect of motets Thomas Tallis and 20th century poet of indeterminacy Morton Feldman. The voices shimmer as Tallis would have wanted, while the hushed dynamics and hesitant tempo recall Feldman’s masterwork Rothko Chapel. “Umbrae Mortis” which follows is an astounding condensation of a 15th century requiem by Johannes Ockeghem, with moments of lamentation and meditation breathing together in stasis. “Dona Eis,” from Dusapin’s opera Romeo & Juliette, combines the instruments of the Ars Nova Ensemble with the Accentus Choir in a dramatic yearning for resolution. A transcendent collection.
George Tysh is Metro Times arts editor. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.