Dusapin: Granum sinapis; Umbrae mortis; Dona eis

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LABELS: Naïve Montaigne
WORKS: Granum sinapis; Umbrae mortis; Dona eis
PERFORMER: Accentus Chamber Choir, Ensemble Ars Nova/Laurence Equilbey
Pascal Dusapin’s music changed radically in the Nineties, and the shift from the expressive extremes of his early music towards greater directness and harmonic clarity is beautifully demonstrated in the highly impressive trilogy of large-scale choral settings that make up his Requiem, written towards the end of the decade. The writing for mixed choir is unaccompanied in the first two pieces, Granum sinapis and Umbrae mortis, and combined with an instrumental ensemble in the third, Dona eis. If the first two settings unfold at their own leisurely pace, breathing an air of contemplation, then the third is much less homogeneous: the instruments punctuate and tint the textures, the vocal lines acquire much more rhythmic momentum and frequently alternate between speech and song, sometimes abandoning the text altogether in favour of quiet breathing.


Everything about the pieces is serious, and their accumulated power is considerable as the voice parts reveal a huge range of colour and inflection in response to the texts, which are a mixture of sacred and mystical writings, together with an extract from Dusapin’s first opera Roméo et Juliette. The sheer concentration of the writing makes the tiniest nuance take on enormous significance, and the performances under Laurence Equilbey seem exemplary. Andrew Clements