TROTTA Seven Last Words
The booklet tells one precious little about this choral cantata but the composer’s website fills in the gaps. Thus, Seven Last Words by Michael John Trotta (b1978) was completed in 2016 to a co-commission from four churches in Kentucky, Missouri and the Carolinas, with the public premiere taking place in Carnegie Hall on May 27 this year. This disc, however, was made last year, presumably in Kansas (no recording details are provided).
Trotta’s musical style is fairly straightforward and, dare I say it, rather bland: aside from a few nods to the 18th century in the opening ‘Father, forgive them’ and concluding ‘It is finished’, not unlike that of Eric Whitacre or Ēriks Ešenvalds. There is none of the severity that one encounters in the recent music of, say, Arvo Pärt, or the intensity; Trotta’s music conveys little of the suffering, drama or passion of the subject matter. There is little obviously American in the sound world, either, beyond the colouring of the solo brass players – the trumpet, in particular – due more, I suspect, to the tonal qualities of the players than the music itself.
The performance is more than competent, rendering clearly Trotta’s relentlessly euphonious choral-and-orchestral textures. Melanie Russell sounds stretched in the climax of her solo in the third movement, ‘Behold your son’ – not movement 4 as the skimpy booklet states – but David Farwig is more secure in his two solos, ‘I thirst’, actually the fourth movement, not third as the booklet lists against his name, and ‘It is finished’. Clear sound.