Suzanne Farrin’s Dolce la morte sets poems by Michelangelo inspired by his relationship with Tommaso de’ Cavalieri dealing with the joy and complexity of desire and spiritual fulfillment. They are really intense poems and Farrin has scored them for counter tenor and seven piece chamber ensemble. The music is complex and intriguing. The vocal line consists mainly of long, high legato lines that play around with pitch in a variety of ways. The instrumental accompaniment is often also quite high and somewhat drone like with percussive insertions and places where the strings sound uncannily like another voice. It’s haunting and quite disturbing and definitely the sort of music one doesn’t fully “get” on first hearing but which makes one want to come back to it.
The performances, by Eric Jurenas and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble conducted by David Fulmer are extremely skilled and well captured on disk. The recordings were made at Oktaven Audio in Mount Vernon, New York in February 2018 and are crystal clear. The booklet accompanying the CD is a work of art in itself featuring striking images by Doug Fitch, as well, of course as texts and translations.
This release on the Tundra label distributed by New Focus Recordings is well worth a listen.