All the ends of the earth reaches across nine centuries to connect three contemporary Irish voices with the music of a mediæval master. Present-day Dublin and 12th-century Notre Dame Cathedral have never seemed closer in this, the latest time-shrinking project by the visionary Ergodos Musicians.
Music by a French mediæval master, known simply as Léonin, forms the focus of this record. Léonin time-stretches a plainchant tune, Viderunt omnes, and places beautiful lyrical counter-melodies on top of it; this music seems even more transcendent as time passes.
Irish composers Linda Buckley, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly and Garrett Sholdice have found inspiration in the clarity of Léonin’s constructions, and the quality of his simple materials. Their works are personal acts of homage, remembrance and celebration.
Vocalist Michelle O’Rourke is heard layered on the opening track, a simple, declamatory realisation of the inspirational music by Léonin. Garrett Sholdice’s ritualistic, almost shamanistic, Song for Magister Léonin, written for ensemble, zooms in on Léonin’s world, creating a procession of self-contained images, simultaneously stark and full with emotion — reminiscent of the two-dimensional religious art of Léonin’s time.
In his central instrumental diptych, All the ends of the earth, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly crafts intricate, interlocked phrases out of tiny fragments from Léonin’s texture. These are set into motion, gracefully spinning and turning; gradually, over time they are changed, like clay on the potter’s wheel.
Linda Buckley’s Revelavit returns us to the world of O’Rourke’s layered voice. Here, Buckley paints in bright colours and bold, celebratory arcs, creating dovetailing counterpoints from undulating plainchant. Something of this major-key celebration still flickers in Sholdice’s solo piano closer, Weihnachtliche Musik. The title — ‘christmas music’ — reflects the original use of Viderunt omnes as the plainchant for Christmas Day. A moment of quiet reflection, fleeting yet full of weight.
… [An] eloquent meditation … The mood is spiritual, perhaps, but hardly sectarian, with a warm bath production style taking full advantage of studio effects – I Care If You Listen Magazine
Ergodos Musicians is a fluid band of musicians under the umbrella of Ergodos, a Dublin-based production company and record label founded by composers Garrett Sholdice and Benedict Schlepper-Connolly in 2006. Ergodos Musicians’ 2013 debut release — I Call to You, an album of music inspired by J.S. Bach — was described by RTÉ Ten as ‘perhaps the most important record of Irish music released this year’. Other manifestations of the group have seen it expand to a full-sized chamber orchestra. Summer 2014 saw the release of Songs, a collection of arrangements of songs spanning the last 800 years of music. Songs received a ‘CD Choice’ feature in The Irish Times – ‘nothing could better exemplify the continued vitality of the song tradition’, wrote Cormac Larkin.
The All the ends of the earth project features an ensemble of regular Ergodos collaborators. Michelle O’Rourke is a vocalist who has performed with groups as diverse as vocal duo Tryst, Danish indie rock group Efterklang and Berlin-based collective Stargaze. UK-based clarinettist Jonathan Sage is a member of the Dark Inventions ensemble, and has performed as soloist with Ergodos Musicians in concertos by Garrett Sholdice and Mozart. Cellist Kate Ellis is artistic director of Ireland’s foremost contemporary music group, Crash Ensemble and regularly performs with Yurodny and her own ReSound project. Ergodos founders and co-directors, Schlepper-Connolly and Sholdice also feature in the ensemble on this occasion – on electric guitar and piano respectively.