Everything about this new Hyperion issue is new to me, so my approach was rather cautious and apprehensive. At the end, my fears dissipated into thin air as the originality and inventiveness of the music bowled me over. Although Anthony Pitts is still a young composer (he was born in 1969), his voice is strongly distinctive, and from what I have heard on this disc, he most definitely has a bright future; in fact his music has already been premièred in London, Amsterdam and Berlin.
Pitts' sound world is very ingenious combining the jazz idiom within a tight structure of traditional musical form and responding to the sacred texts with fervour and absolute honesty. The disc includes eight choral works composed between 1991 and 2000, but I will only dwell on Seven Letters, the central work of the album. This composition is presumed to be the only choral setting of St. John's condemnation of the first century church in Asia Minor, which at the time was indulging in almost every form of sin and vice imaginable.
Each letter is performed by one of the seven members of Tonus Peregrinus over a cyclical choral background which systematically intensifies as the piece moves through the seven letters of the musical scale. As the work unfolds, the listener is gradually gripped by both the spiritual and musical content, until he is raised to a visionary level that helps him perceive the apocalyptic nature of St. John's indictment.
The other pieces are all typical of Pitts' approach; an intricate, multifaceted fabric of voluptuous sonorities. The Tonus Peregrinus, formed by Pitts' himself in 1990, have already gained a strong reputation worldwide for their musical achievements. The ensemble's recording of Part's Passio won a Cannes Classical Award in 2004. I need not stress that this group delivers immaculate performances of these works coupled with Hyperion's usual taste for the unusual and outstanding engineering; this is a disc to treasure.
Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech