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The Crossing|Carthage

Carthage

Donald Nally, The Crossing

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The Crossing has kept up a vigorous recording schedule featuring distinctive American choral music not found in general circulation. This album appeared in May of 2020, at the height of the coronavirus epidemic; it is to be hoped that listeners can get their hands on physical copies, for online streams do not do justice to the fine acoustic of the Massachusetts church where the group makes its recordings. Those new to The Crossing might do well to pick this release for their first one. It is entirely devoted to a cappella choral music of James Primosch, who has forged a one-of-a-kind choral idiom. The texts mix sacred and secular elements, with the centerpiece, the Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus, combining the Catholic mass text with poems by Denise Levertov. Other contemporary writers represented include Marilynne Robinson (whose prose from the novel Housekeeping provides the metaphorical view of ancient Carthage that gives the album its title) and Wendell Berry. What is most impressive is that Primosch devises a flexible musical language that matches the wide variety of textual ideas. His music, in the main, is diatonic but not really tonal. Parts of the mass offer open intervals, reminiscent of medieval organum, that complement the troping structure inherent in the exchange between the Levertov poems and the mass text. Elsewhere, Primosch employs lush, close harmonies as a means of musical intensification, for instance, in the utterly original treatment of the Incarnation and Crucifixion in the mass. He may add a descant requiring superb control from The Crossing's sopranos, who excel. Yet again, in some of the shorter pieces, Primosch offers a new intervallic structure with each phrase, in a way reflecting the sense of the text. There's a lot to absorb here, and the music rewards and requires multiple hearings. The performances by The Crossing, always solid, are pitch-perfect; the soloists are beautiful but do not seem to step out of the world created by the choir. This is a major American choral release.
© TiVo

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Carthage

The Crossing

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Journey (James Primosch)

1
Journey
The Crossing
00:03:44

James Primosch, Composer - Donald Nally, Conductor - The Crossing, Choir, MainArtist

(C) 2020 Navona (P) 2020 Navona

Carthage (James Primosch)

2
Carthage
Robert Eisentrout
00:10:46

James Primosch, Composer - Donald Nally, Conductor - The Crossing, Choir - Jessica Beebe, Artist - Robert Eisentrout, Artist, MainArtist - Elisa Sutherland, Artist

(C) 2020 Navona (P) 2020 Navona

Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus (James Primosch)

3
I. Kyrie
Steven Bradshaw
00:06:26

James Primosch, Composer - Donald Nally, Conductor - Rebecca Siler, Artist - Steven Bradshaw, Artist, MainArtist - The Crossing, Choir - Dimitri German, Artist - Elisa Sutherland, Artist

(C) 2020 Navona (P) 2020 Navona

4
II. Gloria
Steven Bradshaw
00:03:31

James Primosch, Composer - Donald Nally, Conductor - Rebecca Siler, Artist - Steven Bradshaw, Artist, MainArtist - The Crossing, Choir - Dimitri German, Artist - Elisa Sutherland, Artist

(C) 2020 Navona (P) 2020 Navona

5
III. Credo
Nathaniel Barnett
00:05:45

James Primosch, Composer - Donald Nally, Conductor - Rebecca Siler, Artist - Steven Bradshaw, Artist - The Crossing, Choir - Kelly Ann Bixby, Artist - Dimitri German, Artist - Maren Montalbano, Artist - Elisa Sutherland, Artist - Nathaniel Barnett, Artist, MainArtist

(C) 2020 Navona (P) 2020 Navona

6
IV. Sanctus
Jessica Beebe
00:05:51

Michael Jones, Artist - James Primosch, Composer - Donald Nally, Conductor - Rebecca Siler, Artist - Steven Bradshaw, Artist - The Crossing, Choir - Jessica Beebe, Artist, MainArtist - Robert Eisentrout, Artist - Dimitri German, Artist - Maren Montalbano, Artist - Elisa Sutherland, Artist

(C) 2020 Navona (P) 2020 Navona

7
V. Agnus Dei
Jessica Beebe
00:05:12

Daniel Taylor, Artist - James Primosch, Composer - Daniel Schwartz, Artist - Donald Nally, Conductor - Rebecca Siler, Artist - Steven Bradshaw, Artist - The Crossing, Choir - Jessica Beebe, Artist, MainArtist - Dimitri German, Artist - Elisa Sutherland, Artist

(C) 2020 Navona (P) 2020 Navona

Spiralling Ecstatically (James Primosch)

8
Spiralling Ecstatically
Karen Blanchard
00:05:01

James Primosch, Composer - Donald Nally, Conductor - Karen Blanchard, Artist, MainArtist - The Crossing, Choir - Kelly Ann Bixby, Artist - Robert Eisentrout, Artist

(C) 2020 Navona (P) 2020 Navona

Two Arms of the Harbor (James Primosch)

9
Two Arms of the Harbor
Rebecca Siler
00:04:53

James Primosch, Composer - Donald Nally, Conductor - Rebecca Siler, Artist, MainArtist - The Crossing, Choir - Elisa Sutherland, Artist

(C) 2020 Navona (P) 2020 Navona

One with the Darkness, One with the Light (James Primosch)

10
One with the Darkness, One with the Light
The Crossing
00:02:27

James Primosch, Composer - Donald Nally, Conductor - The Crossing, Choir, MainArtist

(C) 2020 Navona (P) 2020 Navona

Album review

The Crossing has kept up a vigorous recording schedule featuring distinctive American choral music not found in general circulation. This album appeared in May of 2020, at the height of the coronavirus epidemic; it is to be hoped that listeners can get their hands on physical copies, for online streams do not do justice to the fine acoustic of the Massachusetts church where the group makes its recordings. Those new to The Crossing might do well to pick this release for their first one. It is entirely devoted to a cappella choral music of James Primosch, who has forged a one-of-a-kind choral idiom. The texts mix sacred and secular elements, with the centerpiece, the Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus, combining the Catholic mass text with poems by Denise Levertov. Other contemporary writers represented include Marilynne Robinson (whose prose from the novel Housekeeping provides the metaphorical view of ancient Carthage that gives the album its title) and Wendell Berry. What is most impressive is that Primosch devises a flexible musical language that matches the wide variety of textual ideas. His music, in the main, is diatonic but not really tonal. Parts of the mass offer open intervals, reminiscent of medieval organum, that complement the troping structure inherent in the exchange between the Levertov poems and the mass text. Elsewhere, Primosch employs lush, close harmonies as a means of musical intensification, for instance, in the utterly original treatment of the Incarnation and Crucifixion in the mass. He may add a descant requiring superb control from The Crossing's sopranos, who excel. Yet again, in some of the shorter pieces, Primosch offers a new intervallic structure with each phrase, in a way reflecting the sense of the text. There's a lot to absorb here, and the music rewards and requires multiple hearings. The performances by The Crossing, always solid, are pitch-perfect; the soloists are beautiful but do not seem to step out of the world created by the choir. This is a major American choral release.
© TiVo

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