Ezequiel Viñao: Arcanum

Ezequiel Viñao: Arcanum

by Kristjan Järvi
     
 

When one is caught up in this album's mysterious ambience, entranced by the haunting vocals of soprano Janet Youngdahl, and hypnotized by the ebbing and flowing textures of the Absolute Ensemble, ably led by Kristjan Järvi, it's easy to kick back, chill out, and abandonSee more details below

Overview

When one is caught up in this album's mysterious ambience, entranced by the haunting vocals of soprano Janet Youngdahl, and hypnotized by the ebbing and flowing textures of the Absolute Ensemble, ably led by Kristjan Järvi, it's easy to kick back, chill out, and abandon all critical thought about Ezequiel Viñao's "Arcanum for voice and chamber ensemble" (1996), released in 2005 on BIS. It helps, too, that the musicians' gorgeous sounds are exquisitely reproduced in all their varied timbres, dynamics, and dimensions in 5.0 surround sound, and that the hybrid SACD format is ideal for conveying the depth and spaciousness of Viñao's powerfully evocative music. With all that said, one might still quibble with the composer's choice of texts, which are disconnected, enigmatic, and cryptic for people who don't understand Latin, Greek, and German. Yet these are Biblical quotations and familiar ancient aphorisms, and most are easily recognized when read in English translation in the liner notes. One might also argue about Viñao's generally soft-edged, drifting music, and feel that it is not much different than some new age or crossover fare, since it seems to conceal a lack of musical imagination in vague washes of sound. To this point, let it be said that "Arcanum" has several extended passages that could be construed as vaporous or vapid, but it also contains just as many tough, challenging, and startling sections to counter such an objection. On a more profound level, though, one might seriously question the point of this impressive but amorphous meditation on God, death, and eternity, because Viñao seems to have ventured into obscure eschatological subjects merely to mystify, rather than edify. This work is really no more baffling than many other modern cantatas, either sacred or secular, religious or humanist; indeed, the extremely slow pacing, clearly defined gestures, and resonant sonic fields of "Arcanum" make it easy to absorb and comprehend; and it is not hurried or crowded, like many contemporary works that try to express the ineffable in thick textures or complex designs. In terms of profundity and communication, "Arcanum" is unlikely to be regarded as the great spiritual document of our time, and Viñao may be criticized for being a bit too pretentious in his esoteric approach. However, this work is certainly an earnest exploration of spiritual themes that, in places, has considerable power to move, and enough music of quality to merit serious attention.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/27/2005
Label:
Bis
UPC:
7318599911878
catalogNumber:
1187

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Arcanum, for voice & chamber ensemble  - Ezequiel Viñao  - Robert von Bahr  - Benjamin Herrington  - Mat Fieldes  - Pablo Rieppi  - Keve Wilson  - Janet Youngdahl  -  Absolute Ensemble  - Kristjan Järvi

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