The Fifth Century – a new recording from The Crossing & PRISM Quartet
There’s a stunning new CD that features two accomplished Philadelphia ensembles. The Fifth Century, a work for choir and saxophone quartet by the active English composer Gavin Bryars, was released in November on the elite ECM label. The seven-movement suite sets texts by the seventeenth century theologian and metaphysical poet Thomas Traherne, whose writings were lost for 200 years. The Fifth Century is the final section of Traherne’s best known work, Centuries of Meditations, and the texts explore issues of eternity, infinity and God’s omnipresence on earth—in the context of a consonant, lyrical choral language, subtly supported by four saxes (soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone.)
The chorus is Philadelphia’s The Crossing and the nonpareil saxophone chamber group, PRISM, has the instrumental duties. The Crossing’s founder and director, Donald Nally, conducts. Two short Love Songs for unaccompanied female choir, with words by Petrarch, complete the disc. The recorded sound, from Gould Hall at Curtis, is exquisite.