Though Erling Wold is cult-famed in an admixed neoclassical / avant-garde / progressive world, he's also provided beautiful minimal scores for films and in Missa Beati has produced a full-blown classical chorale based in the Benedictine / Gregorian mode but but no means dogmatic, a gorgeously angelic religious work in an, if you will, anciently modern Catholic canon.
For those familiar with his opuses, I needn't state that Wold has many very pleasing elements in common with Glass, Nyman, Adams, Reich, and the so-called minimal serialists (most of these composers hate that term but it's appropriate), as this is a given in his work, but to hear that element woven into these ecclesiastic songs is blissful, something long overdue. He recruited the Collegium Vocale der Kathedrale St. Gallen for the vocal element, Kimberly Brockman the soprano solo, as well as the Collegium Instrumentale der Kathedrale, Willibald Guggenmos on organ. The ambiance of both is a hand-in-glove proposition, inseparably melded, meticulously integrated.
The voices are largely female and angelic in the extreme, male counterpoints recessed, with the cathedral's echo providing an expansive golden warmth to the massed encantings, a palpable feel of heavenly dimensions, though the pastoral netherlands of Earth are sometimes used in contrast, as in Gloria 's stark short contrasts. Chant is always mournful, even when joyous, and this moody nonet of titles is no exception. There are effulgent passages of Godly sentimentality but also the turbulence of the states between He and man, reminders of our fall from Grace.
Place this in with your rarefied collection of excellent such craftsmanship: Chanticleer, the Hilliard Ensemble, the Choir of St. John's College, and so on because Wold succinctly evokes Palestrina, Lassus, and sundry elder masters in his attentions to the mode. Much of this will send gooseflesh up the spine as you slip into beatific meditations, and that, after all, was precisely the intent from DeMachaut onwards.
And speaking of Machaut, one of Western music's first bad boy avant-gardists, if not the very first, look to the review of Wold's Mordake (here) for a very sharp contrast just as skillfully wrought but challenging and way outside norms.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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