Gavin Bryars is one of my all time favorite composers, and I would take at least one of his records if I was to live in a desert island.. He followed a unique path through the most interesting territories of the new musics map, through the most creative record companies (ECM, Point Music, Obscure and EG, Sub Rosa...), among the most interesting musicians of our time (Brian Eno, Balanescu Quartet, Hilliard Ensemble, Tom Waits, Bill Frisell, Julian Lloyd Weber, Charlie Haden, Tony Oxley, Derek Bailey...). One of the starting points of this unique journey is the famous instrumental suite The Sinking of the Titanic, whose first version was released in 1975, as the first release on Obscure, the label founded by Brian Eno.
On Photography is a splendid album of vocal music, performed by the Latvian Radio Choir. Gavin Bryars' compositions were written in 1983 for Robert Wilson's operatic project, The CIVIL WarS. Unfortunately, this endeavour collapsed, and Bryars' parts remained unreleased until he built up a new artistic project in 1994, On Photography, blending various inspiration sources such as American writer Susan Sontag, Pope Leo XIII (who wrote a poem Ars Photographica) and Jules Verne (who met Leo XIII in 1884).
While preparing live performances of these pieces with the Latvian Radio Choir in Riga, Gavin Bryars attended by chance rehearsal sessions, while the Choir was working on pieces by Latvian composer Arturs Maskats and by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov. He was so moved by what he heard that he decided to include their pieces in this splendid CD, released on his own label, GB Direct.
On Photography is a pure gem of choral music, with rich harmonic climates, a deep sound and a serene and meditative atmosphere.
It is a true masterpiece that could be compared to the best productions of ECM New Musics (Arvo Pärt, or Valentin Silvestrov's Silent Songs, Bagatellen und Serenaden, Leggiero & Pesante, Requiem for Larissa, Symphony for Larissa and Metamusik & Postludium albums).
If you like this CD, please buy Gavin Bryars and the Latvian Radio Choir's most recent work: Glorious Hill, Cadman Requiem (2008).
link: mp3 / 320