Bordon: Mysteria Fidei

Album cover art for upc 726708604929
Label: INNOVA
Catalog: INN049
Format: COMPACT DISC

Far Song; Gogichashvili, Eka

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 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.

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