Friday, May 13, 2016

Gnostic music

ORCHESTRA: Reviews Maja Ratkje CREPUSCULAR HOUR (Euan Andrews, The Quietus).
Norwegian composer Ratkje's mesmerising Crepuscular Hour seeps through the liminal cracks between light and dark, the spiritual gloaming during which living bodies and minds change their patterns of behaviour. Recorded during the 2012 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, it is a piece for three choirs, three noise musicians and church organ. It begins with an almighty sharp intake of breath, like the oxygen were being sucked out of a vast space as if by one violently conjoined sigh, and it is these gathered voices which predominate throughout the performance. Based around texts from the Nag Hammed Library, a collection of early Gnostic gospels discovered in Egypt in 1945, the choirs augur portents of chaos and battle while sounding scarcely human, or at least not the work of individual human beings. Here, as with the most extreme choral work of Ligeti, we have the voices of living people turned to mass invocation of barely suppressed terror and hysteria in the face of cataclysm.
My bold emphasis. Yes, the entire review sounds this earnest.