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CD Review

Robert Kyr

A Time for Life

  • An Environmental Oratorio
Third Angle New Music
Cappella Romana/Alexander Lingas
Cappella Romana CR411-CD
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The world's finest religious music can – with no disrespect to the composer or artists – be enjoyed by all people of as much or as little faith as they may have. Nor do I mean any disrespect to the initiatives of His All-Holiness Bartholomew I, who inspired this music and has served as an inspiration generally to people of all backgrounds and cultures. Rather, I am contending that great religious music, really great religious music, touches us all through beauty, musical thought, and sincerity of purpose. Therefore, this project is not only a major statement of ecumenical ideals, but also a major musical statement. As a profoundly beautiful religious work, it succeeds. As a statement of tolerance and peace, it succeeds. And as something that we can all connect to, it succeeds all the more.

Composer Robert Kyr has obviously connected with the environmental efforts that His All-Holiness has become noted for. Additionally, His All-Holiness has shown a real commitment to interfaith dialogue, and the inclusion of passages from various traditions pays homage to the major accomplishments of his reign. In this work from 2007, Kyr uses a gentle, minimal scoring to plead gently but firmly for the preservation of our world. The use of small choral forces and simple, flowing string quartet stands in stark contrast to the heavy, massive works we associate with the idea of the oratorio. With a keen ear for the traditional music of the Eastern Orthodox faith, Kyr effortlessly weaves the various texts of the world's people together, seamlessly uniting all of us through music. Credit the composer especially for this; nobody's texts stand taller or gain more importance. Rather, it seems to be a recognition that to save the planet, those of us who practice faith – and indeed, those of us who do not – will have to work as one to further that cause.

There is perhaps no choir that can sing this kind of music more beautifully than Cappella Romana. Having commissioned this work, they are understandably passionate about it, singing with real emotion and depth. The members of Third Angle New Music also make absolutely lovely sounds. This is a tremendous disc, one which requires no religion to enjoy, but only heart and soul. We all have this, so it means something, I hope, to each one of us.

Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman

Trumpet