About the album
The music of English composer Gavin Bryars has long managed the distinction of being both “accessible and defiantly personal” (The New York Times). A deep yet unsentimental emotional resonance and a patient, contemplative view of time – whether relating to harmonic rhythm or human experience – are complementary characteristics that run through his instrumental, vocal and theatrical catalog like a red thread, the composer inspired by disparate spirits from Wagner and Satie to Cage and Silvestrov.
The ECM New Series released multiple recordings of Bryars’ music in the 1980s and early ’90s, including the classic albums After the Requiem and Vita Nova. The first full ECM album from Bryars in decades is The Fifth Century, which includes the seven-part title work: a slowly evolving – yet immediately involving – setting of words by 17th-century English mystic Thomas Traherne, performed by the mixed choir of The Crossing with saxophone quartet PRISM. The album also features Two Love Songs, luminous a cappella settings of Petrarch for the women of The Crossing.
11The Fifth Century We see the heavens with our eyes
12The Fifth Century As sure as there is a space infinite
13The Fifth Century Infinity of space is like a painter’s table
14The Fifth Century Eternity is a mysterious absence of times and ages
15The Fifth Century Eternity magnifies our joys exceedingly
16The Fifth Century His omnipresence is our field of joys
17The Fifth Century Our bridegroom and our king being everywhere
18Two Love Songs Io amai sempre
19Two Love Songs Solo et pensoso