Magazine article Gramophone

Furrer: Enigma I-VI

Magazine article Gramophone

Furrer: Enigma I-VI

Article excerpt

Furrer

Enigma I-VI (b). voices--still (b). ... cold and calm and moving (c)

(ab) Helsinki Chamber Choir; (bc) Uusinta Ensemble / Nils Schweckendiek Toccata Classics (F) TOCC0360 (66' * DDD * T/t)

Ambitious ensemble works such as Nuun and operas including Fama, Begehren and Westenbuch (recorded on Kairos, along with as much else in a prolific output) have won the Swiss composer Beat Furrer (b 1954) a high status in closeted avant-garde circles. This beautifully produced disc of choral music could usefully challenge that reputation and introduce him to a broader audience.

The first four of six a cappella Enigmas (2006-13) swell and throb around darkly mystical prophecies of Leonardo da Vinci while preserving line and sense. Such textual fidelity is dramatically splintered by the fifth in the series. Rough breathing and extended vocal techniques crumple and then shred Leonardo's words into the ghosts and shadows that are the object of his disturbed contemplation. Where the dominant pitch direction was previously in descent to a piteously imagined abyss, the final Enigma, 'On Metals', inexorably rises through a thermal and abruptly vanishes. …

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