Joanne Metcalf, Rihm, Sciarrino and Moody

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Joanne Metcalf,Rihm,Sciarrino and Moody
LABELS: Oehms
ALBUM TITLE: Singer Pur
WORKS: Four Passiontide Motets
PERFORMER: Singer Pur
Hilliard Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: OC 354
I’ve heard few more extraordinary

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CDs of contemporary vocal music

than this. Not because of the oddness

of the sounds: there are no strange

palatal clicks, no whispering – just

straightforward singing of marvellous

refinement and expressivity. What

seizes the ear are the thick weaves

of counterpoint, and the dense and

dissonant harmonies. To make this

music speak the singers need a razorsharp

sense of pitch and a focused,

pure tone, which the young German

vocal sextet, Singer Pur, certainly have.

Their role model is clearly the

British vocal quartet the Hilliard

Ensemble, who actually join forces

with the German group in Joanne

Metcalf’s setting of Dante. But the

younger group yields nothing to the

older one in terms of purity, accuracy

and intensity of tone.

The best item is Wolfgang Rihm’s

Four Passiontide Motets, poised

beautifully on the cusp between

a hyper-intense Italian madrigal

style somewhat like Gesualdo, and

something much more modern and

strange. Add to that the wonderful

resonant acoustic of the recording, and

you have the ingredients of something

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truly rich and marvellous. Ivan Hewett