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Jorge GRUNDMAN (b.1961)
A Mortuis Resurgere (2013) [54:05]
Susana Cordón (soprano)
Brodsky Quartet
rec. June 2013, IES San Fernando, Madrid
Texts and translations included
CHANDOS CHSA5138 SACD [54:05]

Jorge Grundman studied music in Madrid but his career has fluctuated between music and his professional teaching as a Professor in the city. Here his interests focus on aspects of architectural acoustics and sound engineering, His background has informed A Mortuis Resurgere (The Resurrection of Christ) only insofar as he has been careful to consider the acoustics for the sacred buildings in which he intended the work to be performed and heard.
 
As a pop musician in his youth – vocalist and keyboard player in ETC, Fahrenheit 451 and later Trópico de Cáncer – he moved from more straight-down-the-line pop via New Age and thence TV and film. His music for classical forces is tonal, and I was interested to read that he has done much to promote the music of Gerald Finzi in Spain, as well as Piazzolla who presumably doesn’t need quite as much pushing. Grundman is a bridge-builder between pop and classical sensibilities and his ‘eclectic classical style’ — his own phrase — is put to use to this effect. He has worked with the Brodsky Quartet and soprano Susana Cordón before, in God’s Sketches (2011), though he worked with just the quartet as far back as 2009 in Surviving a Son’s Suicide.
 
This new work was composed in 2013 as a companion for Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross, an ambitious undertaking, though obviously there is a geographical link – Haydn wrote the work for a commission from Cádiz Cathedral. No continuation of the Haydn is implied; rather Grundman has composed a kind of oratorio for solo singer and string quartet with different types of vocal techniques better to convey the mystery of the Resurrection. In essence this means that the material is first presented and is then subject to repetition and mild variation. The text comes from the St John Gospel, chapters XIX and XX. The means by which Grundman conveys the texts are many and various; bel canto, ecclesiastical chant, vocalise, coloratura and others. His writing is intensely tonal, and expressive - I particularly like the string writing in Capitulo XX (track 6 – the vocalise) though there are times when I sense that he has listened closely to someone like Steve Reich - the final scene of Capitulo XIX seems to me to be reminiscent of Changing Trains.
 
His vocal lines go from vocalise to more operatic and indeed stentorian though he is also adept at kind-of accompanied recitatives, and he is acutely conscious of word setting. Some of his writing – track nine – evokes the baroque-procedure appropriation of Michael Nyman. At 54 minutes this needs to be listened to with a sympathetic ear. Those who do not fall under its spell will doubtless find the word ‘longueurs’ insufficiently forceful. The performers, obviously coached by the composer, sound suitably in tune with the idiom. The greater expressive burdens fall on Susana Cordón.
 
Jonathan Woolf