Apres Moi, Le Deluge

Luna Pearl Woolf’s “post-Katrina lament for solo cello and a cappella choir” is a four movement, 25-minute work, but I’m stuck in the five-minute second movement. The text is a poem by Eleanor Wilner, written in response to the disaster, and the music is haunting, especially in this section. But it’s a complicated feeling, because despite the horrifying imagery—”through drowned canyons of shanties; what passes, airless, there/past bloated bodies, staring eyes, unseeing”—it’s also heart-ripping but entrancingly beautiful scoring. Cellist Matt Haimovitz draws an emotional wailing and weeping from his instrument without melodrama, and his solo cello manages to securely hold its own against the choir.

—MS