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Missa Umbrarum

4 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 25, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Missa Umbrarum by Daniel Lentz

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Product Details

  • Performer: Gregg Johnson, Barrington Brooks, Cindy Martineau, Elin Downing, Gail Johnson, et al.
  • Composer: Daniel Lentz
  • Audio CD (November 25, 2009)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: New Albion Records
  • Run Time: 55 minutes
  • ASIN: B000000R27
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,976 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Missa Umbrarum, the title piece, uses an interesting process: A number of 30-second electronic delays are used to slowly build up to the final "destination" for each phrase of the Mass. The nonvocal music comes entirely from crystal glasses (as per a glass harmonica) played by the vocalists. On the first repetition of a phrase, the lowest notes of the section are supplied, and then the singers drink from the glasses before adding the next layer. In the end, each phrase is built from half-a-dozen or more layers, turning the handful of vocalists (and glasses) into a full choir. Despite the technique, the final result does not sound dense and muddy; an ethereal nature is retained throughout.
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Format: Audio CD
When the liner notes begin by giving me the formula used to create the music, I am always suspicious. The result is more often an interesting exercise in sound and/or silence than music. Lentz is an exception. O-Ke-Wa is played on wine glasses - rubbed or tapped with a mallet with the sound man as a major instrumentalist - adjusting the microphone balance to change which glasses are most heard. Drums, bells and voices round out the musicians. The resulting music is complex and meditative.
The title piece Missa Umbarum builds its music from shadows of what precedes i.e. using tape loops. In this case the wine glasses are filled - the players may adjust the pitch by drinking wine ... wonderfully symbolic for a mass text :-) The voices mix atonal passages with occassional lush, chordal phrases. The result is less meditative than the first piece, but sounds completely focused on the Mass text in a way that forces the listener to redefine what "text" means when applied to a performance mass setting.
Postludium is similar to Missa Umbrarum.
This is an excellent modern music recording - sufficiently accessible to use as an introduction for those uncertain of their taste in modern music.
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