The New Moon was Ēriks Ešenvalds’ contribution to Moon Songs, a 2012 collection of pieces about the moon by ten Latvian composers that was commissioned by the outstanding Riga-based youth choir Kamēr… (which translates as ‘While…’). The words are by the troubled and tragic Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Sara Teasdale, who died by her own hand in 1933, and whom Ešenvalds has set on a number of occasions.
The opening chorale is a forthright one, accusing and angry, its diatonic dissonances intensified by sidesteps into homophonic canon. But as the moon is caught sight of ‘over the factories … in the cloudy seas’, the texture itself clouds over as the canonic iterations are gradually subsumed into an oscillating pair of thick, quiet chords. From the hard-won stillness a new chorale emerges as the ‘maiden moon wakes up in the sky’ (the moon is male in Latvian mythology, but not here). Tuned wine glasses and chimes create an other-worldly halo around this wondrous apparition, which eventually recedes into unresolved nothingness, as the afterglow resonates into silence.
— from notes by Gabriel Jackson © 2015