Evoking the transparency and tension of that "thin place" where heaven and earth meet, Mandorla features three 20th century masterpieces: the majestic Mass for Double Choir by Frank Martin, the heartfelt, folksong-inspired Fire Salmer by Edvard Grieg, and the stunning Cherubic Hymn by Howard Hanson.
Alex Ross, the music critic and writer, said Martin was "one of the great religious composers of the last two hundred years, with Messiaen his only contemporary rival. . . ." Martin withheld his Mass for Double Choir, written in 1922, for forty years, on the grounds that it was unworthy of the Lord. But in the past few decades, his Mass has gone around the world, entrancing audiences with the majesty of its language. This a capella Mass is a luminous work of intensely personal expression.
For most music-lovers, just hearing the name of Edvard Grieg conjures up phrases from his splendid Piano Concerto, inspired by the folksongs of his native Scandinavia. In this same vein, Grieg composed the beautiful Fire Salmer (Four Psalms) in the year before his death.
Finally, in a stunning duet between voice and organ, Howard Hanson creates a sound-world of rich imagery, light, and color, immersing us into a realm of reverence and worship. This is the first recording of The Cherubic Hymn since Hanson's own in the mid-1950's.
"The best music of any kind takes us on a journey, teaching us something, or revealing a new perspective. The best of sacred music does all of these things, too, but with a specific intention: if we allow it to, it leads us to that holy place where heaven and earth intersect, where the veil becomes thin enough that for a moment, though our feet are planted firmly here on earth, our spirits are freed to experience the eternal." - from the program notes