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viñao, ezequiel (1960-)  -  Arcanum / janet youngdahl, absolute ensemble, kristjan järvi

  • Format : SACD

  • New or Used : original new
  • Cover condition : S (?)
  • Media condition : S (?)

  • Label : BIS 1187
  • Pressing : UPC/EAN: 7318599911878 - EU
  • Year : 2005
  • Comment : Ezequiel Viñao: Arcanum / J. Youngdahl, K. Järvi, Et Al Release Date: 09/27/20 ... See below

  • Quantity available : 1
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Ezequiel Viñao: Arcanum / J. Youngdahl, K. Järvi, Et Al

Release Date: 09/27/2005
Label: Bis Catalog #: 1187 Spars Code: DDD
Composer: Ezequiel Viñao
Performer: Janet Youngdahl
Conductor: Kristjan Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble: Absolute Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 Hybrid SACD
Recorded in: Multi
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins.

Works on This Recording

1. Arcanum by Ezequiel Viñao
Performer: Janet Youngdahl (Soprano)
Conductor: Kristjan Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble: Absolute Ensemble
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1996
Length: 60 Minutes 33 Secs.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

R E V I E W S:

This disc represents my introduction to the music of Ezequiel Viñao (b. 1960). Arcanum is a long (just over an hour) cycle of 18 slow to very slow pieces scored for soprano and a mixed ensemble comprised of oboe/English horn, two trombones, three percussionists, and five string-players. The texts are in Greek and Latin, drawn from a wide variety of sources, ranging from the Bible to Virgil, dealing with man's existence relative to time and space. Although the specific influences of each movement are detailed in the notes (and range as widely as the selection of texts), the work as a whole is an exercise in pseudo-medieval (or quasi medieval, depending on how one feels about such things) composition. Compared to the real thing, it, of course, sounds quite modern. On its own, it is actually quite lovely. What intrigued me the most, beyond the sheer beauty of sound the composer draws from his quite varied ensemble, is how a composer like Kaija Saariaho can take the formulas of earlier music into her own aesthetic and make something quite new and unique to her, while Viñao generates a sort of ecstatic comfort and not a great deal more. Having said that, there is no question that the results have considerable surface beauty and the music is rewarding in a vaguely new age sort of way, which I am quite sure is not the composer's intention. The sound and presentation are fully up to BIS's usual standards. This is an SACD release, a format that I am not equipped to play, but it sounds splendid in conventional stereo.

FANFARE: John Story


AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson [-]
When one is caught up in this album's mysterious ambience, entranced by the haunting vocals of soprano Janet Youngdahl, and hypnotized by the ebbing and flowing textures of the Absolute Ensemble, ably led by Kristjan Järvi, it's easy to kick back, chill out, and abandon all critical thought about Ezequiel Viñao's Arcanum for voice and chamber ensemble (1996), released in 2005 on BIS. It helps, too, that the musicians' gorgeous sounds are exquisitely reproduced in all their varied timbres, dynamics, and dimensions in 5.0 surround sound, and that the hybrid SACD format is ideal for conveying the depth and spaciousness of Viñao's powerfully evocative music. With all that said, one might still quibble with the composer's choice of texts, which are disconnected, enigmatic, and cryptic for people who don't understand Latin, Greek, and German. Yet these are Biblical quotations and familiar ancient aphorisms, and most are easily recognized when read in English translation in the liner notes. One might also argue about Viñao's generally soft-edged, drifting music, and feel that it is not much different than some new age or crossover fare, since it seems to conceal a lack of musical imagination in vague washes of sound. To this point, let it be said that Arcanum has several extended passages that could be construed as vaporous or vapid, but it also contains just as many tough, challenging, and startling sections to counter such an objection. On a more profound level, though, one might seriously question the point of this impressive but amorphous meditation on God, death, and eternity, because Viñao seems to have ventured into obscure eschatological subjects merely to mystify, rather than edify. This work is really no more baffling than many other modern cantatas, either sacred or secular, religious or humanist; indeed, the extremely slow pacing, clearly defined gestures, and resonant sonic fields of Arcanum make it easy to absorb and comprehend; and it is not hurried or crowded, like many contemporary works that try to express the ineffable in thick textures or complex designs. In terms of profundity and communication, Arcanum is unlikely to be regarded as the great spiritual document of our time, and Viñao may be criticized for being a bit too pretentious in his esoteric approach. However, this work is certainly an earnest exploration of spiritual themes that, in places, has considerable power to move, and enough music of quality to merit serious attention.



Arcanum (Latin for a deep secret or mystery) is a work which takes the listener on a journey through the Bible, the Underworld, the Middle Ages and beyond in search of God, only to discover that divinity is in fact everywhere. Written in 1996, it was conceived in memory of a friend of Argentinian-born composer Ezequiel Viñao (b. 1960). The work, in two parts, is a meditation on the concept of time itself and the nature of knowledge. In it the composer examines the development of early thought, using material from philosophers and composers alike. The often very brief texts, from the Bible and the works of Parmenides, Virgil, Augustine and others, are set to music inspired by sources scattered over nine hundred years: from early mozarabic chant to late medieval and renaissance composers such as Machaut and Gesualdo, and including influences from Persian and Hindustani music.

Our guides on the Arcanum journey are the Absolute Ensemble and Kristjan Järvi, a team which has chosen to integrate, rather than segregate music. The group fuses its classical roots with everything from jazz and rock to world and hip hop, often working with eminent guests from various genres. For this work 11 Absolute members – playing the oboe, trombones, strings and percussion (including tabla-drums) – are joined by soprano Janet Youngdahl in creating unforgettable soundscapes.




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