Ezequiel Viñao: Arcanum

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
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: 9/27/2005
  • Label: Bis
  • EAN: 7318599911878
  • Catalog Number: 1187

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–18 Arcanum, for voice & chamber ensemble - Ezequiel Viñao & Robert von Bahr (60:25)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Kristjan Järvi Primary Artist
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    a wonderful disc

    The texts draw upon wide-ranging sources: ancient, sacred and medieval. This is music of great beauty, spanning the centuries effortlessly. The recording is excellent. Highly recommended.

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