(EXCERPT) There aren’t many words among the sighs, belts and purrs of Caroline Shaw’s vocal octet “Partita” (2009-12), and at first hearing they sound like gibberish. Take these, purloined from Sol LeWitt’s “Wall Drawing 305”: “The eighty-sixth, eighty-seventh and eighty-eighth points are located symmetrically across the central vertical axis of the wall.” It’s about lines and connections, words that in Ms. Shaw’s “Passacaglia” movement disappear into a thicket of nonsensical sibilance as eight speakers overlap.
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(Excerpt) The saucy “Allemande” from Shaw’s “Partita for 8 Voices” provided some welcome levity, the singers combining geometry (“To the side,” “To the midpoint”) with square dancing (“Allemande left and right”) before swinging into a fugal treatment of “The detail of the pattern is movement,” from T. S. Eliot’s “Burnt Norton.” Judd Greenstein’s more straightforward “Run Away” featured a clarion solo from Virginia Warnken, and Wells’s “Otherwise” was anchored by a resonant Dashon Burton. The premieres were intriguing, but it was the performers who starred, Roomful of Teeth creating a roomful of voices.
Jeffrey Gantz can be reached at email@example.com.