James Primosch: Carthage
Format: COMPACT DISC
The Crossing; Nally, Donald; Grecia, John; Schola Quartet
GRAMMY-winning chamber choir The Crossing is back with their latest installment in a multi-album series with Navona Records. In this latest offering, artistic director Donald Nally leads the choir through six striking pieces by composer James Primosch that confront the most elemental questions of Western philosophy. CARTHAGE opens with Journey, a solemn meditation in which the men of The Crossing chant text based on the work of 13th-century monk and mystic Meister Eckhart: “There is a journey you must take./It is a journey without destination./There is no map./Your soul will lead you./And you can take nothing with you.” Next comes the title track, Carthage, on prose by Marilynne Robinson from her novel Housekeeping, which employs the devastated city of Carthage as a metaphor for desire and imagination: “For to wish for a hand on one’s hair is all but to feel it.” Composer James Primosch evokes images of once-fertile fields now salted and wasted, with Nally teasing out the dynamic subtleties of a work that is nevertheless full of hope and rebirth. Following is Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus. Here, four soloists sing the Latin Mass texts, while the main choir sings Denise Levertov’s cycle of poems which gives the work its title. In pulling together these texts, Primosch celebrates the feast of St. Thomas Didymus, plumbing the depths between unbelief and faith in which true spirituality so often resides. The ancient texts are strangely illuminated by the highs and lows of Levertov’s journey. The album closes with One with the Darkness, One with the Light, a setting of poetry by Wendell Berry. True to its title, the music employs cascading harmonic textures to explore the tension between light and dark, waking and sleeping, life and death.