Mysteria Fidei

Mysteria Fidei

Description: 
Searching amidst life’s many difficulties.
Composers: 
David M. Gordon
Performers: 
Far Song
Kayleen Sanchez
Paul Sanchez
Eka Gogichashvili
Catalog Number: 
#1 049
Genre: 
new classical
Collection: 
solo voice
microtonal
Location: 

Chicago, IL

UPC: 
726708604929
Price: 
$15.00
Release Date: 
Nov 13, 2020
Liner Notes: 
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1 CD

Mysteria Fidei

One Sheet: 

Mysteria Fidei represents the culmination of a six-year collaboration between Chicago-area composer David M. Gordon and Far Song,a husband-and-wife art song duo from South Carolina. Featuring three sacred chamber works, Mysteria Fidei explores the notion of “searching amidst life’s many difficulties—searching for understanding, searching for rescue, searching for hope, searching for fulfillment, searching for joy, searching for God.” Along the way, it deconstructs hymns spanning nearly two millennia and recontextualizes them within our polarized, fear-stricken, and increasingly isolated 21st-century milieu.

Mysteria Fidei begins gently, with an elegiac prayer for peace. The short Swedish art song Fader, stilla våra andar (“Father, Give a Tranquil Spirit”) draws on a hymn by Gordon’s great-grandfather, Frank Earnest, and pays homage to his cultural and spiritual roots by setting its words in Swedish. Though its plaintive strains gradually build in intensity, they belie deep pain roiling just below the surface. It is not until the opening of the second work—Consolation New—that the pain is laid bare. Scored for a single pianist simultaneously playing two microtonally-tuned pianos, Consolation New is “a meditation on suffering and the nearly universal desire for liberation from it.” Based upon an early 19th-century shape-note hymn of the same name, the piece is at turns aggressive, desolate, and contemplative, weaving a dense and ominous—yet strangely seductive—harmonic web.

At the heart of Mysteria Fidei is Mysteria Incarnationis, a large song cycle for soprano, violin, prepared piano, and various auxiliary percussion, string, and wind instruments. Featuring texts by fourth-century poet/theologian Ephrem the Syrian and sung in ancient Syriac, Mysteria Incarnationis ponders the manifold complexities of Christ’s incarnation. Ephrem’s richly paradoxical verses are set to music that is at once ancient, exotic, and otherworldly. Sinuous quarter-tonal melodic lines interlace with shimmering, gamelan-like textures. Eccentric lullabies reverberate with the idiosyncratic sounds of toy piano, retuned autoharp, and harmonica. Solemn chanting drifts lithely over ethereal drones and the ritual chiming of tuned gongs. It is a sonic world as enigmatic as it is entrancing.

A native of the Chicago suburbs and graduate of the University of Chicago, Gordon has worked with an array of local musical luminaries, including Eighth Blackbird, the Pacifica Quartet, the Chicago Sinfonietta, Contempo, steelpan virtuoso Liam Teague, and Projeto Arcomusical. Collaborators further afield include pianist Margaret Leng Tan, the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, Quey Percussion Duo, BEDLAM, and the Motion Trio. Gordon is known for crafting works that transcend cultural, temporal, and technical boundaries. He has been memorably described as a creator of “strong, disturbing music” (Los Angeles Times), and his works have been lauded for their “astonishing… blend of the composer’s ideas and tight focus” (Chicago Sun-Times), as well as their “gritty, grinding passion and raw ritualism” (American Record Guide).

Far Song is comprised of soprano Kayleen Sánchez and pianist Paul Sánchez, both on faculty at the College of Charleston. Kayleen, a specialist in early and new music, has been praised for her “keen technical virtuosity [and] her voice [that] thrills along the spine” (Sherod Santos), while Paul is regularly hailed as “a great artist” (José Feghali; Cecilia Rodrigo). Also featured on the album is Georgian violinist Eka Gogichashvili, Associate Professor of Violin at Baylor University.