COMPOSERS: Bernat Vivancos
LABELS: Neu Records
ALBUM TITLE: Vivancos
PERFORMER: Iveta Romancāne, Ieva Ezeriete (soprano); Latvian Radio Choir; instrumentalists/Sigvards Klava
CATALOGUE NO: NEU 010
There can’t be many settings of the Requiem which use an accordion. This one does, for two of its eight movements: in ‘Souffle ta bougie’ the instrument (played by Arturs Noviks) is the small, etiolated light in the nocturnal forest of Denis Diderot’s text; in the brief epilogue, it is a shred of hope, a gentle gesture of resurrection.
Bernat Vivancos describes his Requiem as ‘a luminous meditation on transcendence’, and for most of its near 100-minute duration the piece is firmly tonal, with a timeless quality clearly linking to the Renaissance, Victoria in particular. Its slow basic pulses and restrained dynamics can be mesmeric, but impatience is another possible reaction: the 22 minutes it takes to set the Beatitudes will stretch many listeners, although the richly blended part-writing and superlative sound quality are constantly beguiling.
The tubular bells and soaring vocalise of soprano Iveta Romancāne in ‘O Virgo Splendens’ provide welcome timbral variety, as does the spectral, jittering quartet of cellos in ‘Lasciatemi morire’, where Monteverdi’s famous madrigal is memed in ghostly fashion. The eight-part writing in the concluding ‘Lux Perpetua’ glows and ripples in this excellent performance, the Latvian Radio Choir tirelessly sustaining pitch and tonal focus through lengthy musical paragraphs.
The packaging deserves a mention – the basic CD issue includes a code enabling free download of Vivancos’s score and high-resolution audio files of the performance, including a 5.1 surround sound version. It’s a model of what such things should be, yet too rarely are at present. Terry Blain