ROBERT ZUIDAM (b.1964): Suster Bertken.
Catalogue Number: 11N095
Reference: CD 2011.126
Description: Sister Bertha was a 15th-century Christian mystic who chose an extreme form of ascetic isolation, being confined of her own volition from the age of 30 until her death at 87 in a tiny cell, the better to commune directly with God. Zuidam's piece dramatizes this strange story very effectively, using the anchoress' own poetry, in which her ecstatic identification with the Virgin is recounted, prefaced by the rituals surrounding her enclosure and devotion to a life of meditation and prayer. The music is an intriguing amalgam of vocal writing of great beauty, often underpinned by harmonically rich accompaniment with a very tonal feel, and more ambiguous, exotic gestures from the ensemble, reminding us of the essential strangeness of Sister Bertha's chosen life, transcended by the utter certainty of her religious visions. Dutch-English libretto. Katrien Baerts (soprano), Hubert Claessens (baritone, baritone sax), Asko/Schönberg; Reinbert de Leeuw.