Ensemble Recherche

Isabel Mundry: Dufay-Bearbeitungen; Traces des Moments; Sandschleifen

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The bulk of this disc of music by Isabel Mundry is given to her seven-movement Dufay-Bearbeitungen (2003-2004) for chamber ensemble. These are more than just arrangements, though; Mundry takes the Dufay motets and puts them into a sonic context in which their ancientness is refracted through a thoroughly modern sensibility. She achieves this largely through instrumentation and by creating a mysterious aural environment in which the Dufay pieces play themselves out, and acquire new, illuminating emotional resonance. The effect is lovely but also cryptic and haunting, and occasionally disorienting. Mundry's skill at creating unconventional instrumental sonorities (especially in her use of percussion) makes these pieces entirely engaging -- they have both the immediate aural appeal and sense of depth and strangeness that makes the listener want to return to them again and again. On the CD, the set is broken into three smaller groups of movements separated by Mundry's more conventionally "modernist" works, whose frenetic energy and spiky language provide a starkly dramatic contrast with the serenity of the Dufay. These works also demonstrate the composer's gifts for using instrumental color to create evocative moods. In spite of their uncompromisingly modernist musical language, Traces des Moments and Sandschleifen are colorful and expressively transparent; Mundry never leaves the listener in doubt about the emotional content of these pieces, mercurial as they are. Ensemble Recherche plays with sensitivity to the music's energy and colors.

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