Choral Music Of Hilary Tann
Cappella Clausura | Amelia LeClair director
Navona Records welcomes Cappella Clausura, directed by Amelia LeClair, to the family with their new release of the choral works of Hilary Tann, entitled EXULTET TERRA.
For the first half of the album, LeClair and Tann juxtapose Tann’s works for women’s voices, a cappella, with pieces by Hildegard von Bingen, in soaring arrangements by LeClair. The second half is the Exultet Terra suite of five movements for double choir and double reed quintet of English horn, oboes, and bassoons. Tann uses a double choir to provide occasional antiphonal effects, and chooses the double reeds for their “earth-like combination, since reeds are like grasses.” Tann is known for taking inspiration from nature in her works.
Tann cites Hildegard von Bingen, recognized as one of the first female composers, as a special influence on these compositions: the responsory O Deus is from von Bingen’s medieval opera Ordo Virtutum; the chant begins with two consecutive fifths, rising immediately to the 9th of the mode. Such leaps were unheard of in that era, and in chant repertoire in general. Tann quotes that first phrase of O Deus in some form in all works here but The Moor. In addition to paying homage to one of the first female composers, Tann sets texts by Anne Bradstreet, widely considered North America’s first published female poet, for both Contemplations (8, 9) and Contemplations (21, 22).
Tann follows a theme of setting texts by poets of her native Wales. The second track, The Moor, is a setting of a poem by Welsh poet R. S. Thomas, along with phrases from the Bible. The Welsh hymn Rheidol by Ieuan Gwyllt is echoed as a coda to the piece. Exultet Terra, translated as “Let the Earth Be Glad,” allowed Tann to set her favorite biblical verses and combine them with three favorite poems by the Welsh metaphysical poet and Anglican priest, George Herbert (1593-1633).
This combination of Tann’s drawing inspiration from old texts to create these ethereal choral works and LeClair’s unique arrangements and passionate interpretations, makes Amelia LeClair & Hilary Tann’s collaboration supremely beautiful and unique.