It may be a little difficult to tell from the graphics exactly what is here, especially given the early music specialization of conductor Paul Hillier and the presence of the phrase "ars nova" in the ensemble name Ars Nova Copenhagen. The music in the second composition included is not by the medieval monk Notker the Stammerer, although it does set his poetry. Instead, all the music here is by a contemporary composer, Pablo Ortiz, born in Argentina and for some years resident at the University of California at Davis. It's quite appealing for listeners of any background, with vivid reflections of the two very different sets of texts involved here. Ortiz is influenced by medieval polyphony, deployed in different ways for the genuine medieval texts of Notker and the contemporary Argentine political poetry of Sergio Chejfec (Gallos y huesos, or Roosters and Bones, which has something monklike in its depiction of the thoughts and repetitions of a solitary figure). Ortiz has also pointed to the influence of Carlo Gesualdo in his music, seen in the intensification of texts through growing chromatic clashes in thick polyphony, and to that of tango music, which is hard to detect on the surface, but does seem to impart rhythmic inevitability to the music. Hillier and his Ars Nova Copenhagen seem ideal performers for this highly interior yet sensuous music, and really the only complaint is the sound from a pair of churches in Copenhagen: it doesn't match the pristine definition important to Hillier's performances.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Gallos y Huesos|