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Music Review

Liturgies Shimmer in Dialogos Performance

April 16, 2002|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the warm and welcoming acoustic of the high-vaulted sanctuary of the Church of the Precious Blood, on Wilshire Boulevard, the seven female voices of Dialogos gave a stunning United States debut performance of an unusual program called "Terra Adriatica" Sunday night.

This agenda included liturgical pieces in Latin and Italian from the 11th to the 14th centuries and later examples of Croatian chant. Led by their founder-director and fellow singer, Katarina Livljanic, the women of Dialogos deliver all this music with fervor, stylistic subtleties and the projection of specific narrative moods.

Passionate and word-sensitive, these performances reinstated the details of Christian ritual with spontaneous energy.

Technically, every note fell into its rightful place in a continuity of meaning rooted in beauty of tone: With nearly vibratoless sounds, the women produced an authentic vibrancy that can make ancient music contemporary.

Consisting of two contraltos, three mezzo-sopranos and two sopranos, the ensemble performs with single-minded word delivery and perfect intonation.

The singers--representing several different nations but based in Paris--moved around the performing area, forming various groupings, and without mugging, their expressions reflected each piece's musical mood.

At the 8 p.m. performance (there had been one in the afternoon), most of the lighting was provided by candles. The concert, on the Chamber Music in Historic Sites series, matched an appropriately sumptuous setting (the church was built in 1926) with sumptuous music.

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