Like Passion and Resurrection, the work begins with an objet trouvé—in this case an Albanian folksong that is the source of the legend. Again, with its strange ululations and glissandi, its ornamentation and keening repetitions, the folksong is immediately established as an alien musical presence. Similarly, the story is told not as a straightforward narrative, but through ellipsis; the piece is not dramatic but contemplative. Its structure is simple: three times material from the original folksong (sung by a solo quintet at a distance) is followed by a setting of the same words for the full choir. The texture is characteristically sonorous, with multiple divisi; the harmony is tonal, invigorated by passing dissonances, the tessitura wide, as intertwined upper voices soar above more slow-moving deeply rooted lower parts. In an extended coda polyphony dissolves into homophony: tolling, incantatory chords create a static pulsation that underscores plaintive wisps of melody from one, then two solo sopranos, who intone (in English) an epitaph for the walled-in woman. Gradually tendrils of folksong are re-woven into the texture, their tonality finally reconciled with that of the choir, as the music recedes into silence.
from notes by Gabriel Jackson © 2011