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ClassicsOnline Home » Choral Music - RACHMANINOV, S. / MAXWELL DAVIES, P. / STRAVINSKY, I. / POULENC, F. / BRAHMS, J. (Legacy) (Westminster Choir, Flummerfelt)
Hail and Farewell!
Legacy documents Joseph Flummerfelt's final concert as music director of the Westminster Choir (retired from that post after more than 30 years, he remains an artist in residence). The program was selected for its perceived connection to the spiritual--not that it's all sacred music--and is nicely gathered into sets: selections by Rachmaninoff, Brahms, and Poulenc, various settings of the Lord's Prayer and the Agnus Dei, and finally arrangements of four folk songs.
While it's a live recording, there's almost no audience noise, and applause only at the end. (There must surely have been a reaction to this amazingly controlled performance of the Barber Agnus Dei, treacherous high notes and all!) Nice sound, though one might occasionally want a little more from the piano. I don't know why the disc is just being released now, when the concert was in April of 2004, but it's a welcome tribute to a man who's done so much for choral music.more....
Westminster Choir bids adieu in 2004
The opening notes establish the characteristic mellow sound of this group, directed by Joseph Flummerfelt, bringing lessons in the best of choral music for churches, universities, and choirs. For decades this choral group promulgated the essence of the college devoted to training ministers of music. The farewell concert of Westminster Choir College in April 2004 from Bristol Chapel on the campus in Princeton is preserved for fond audiences in this CD.
This is a Twentieth Century program, with the exception of the Brahms quartets; even the concluding ballads were arranged by modern composers. The sensitivity and accuracy of superlative training shine through, as does the joy and energy of the young voices. No section dominates unless carrying the melody or a transition. Yet each part is clearly stated—even the words can be understood. Three arrangements of The Lord’s Prayer and presentations in foreign languages provide fine examples for emulation and appreciation. Each song provides a lesson for choirs and directors—control, balance, dynamics, background and solo, breathing, fading and building, velvet texture without hollow overtones. The Poulenc melodies take us to France to imagine the snowfall; two Agnus Dei settings draw us to introspection, especially with the Barber setting, usually heard instrumentally rather than sung.
The selections reach to musicians looking for standards of excellence for local choirs, teachers and students, and to general audiences. And yet there is pathos and sadness in this farewell to a former age. After this concert, Mr. Flummerfelt retired from his 33-year tenure as artistic director and conductor to become conductor laureate and to pursue other professional interests.
Westminster College was absorbed by Rider College in the late 1990s, and eventually evolved into part of the Westminster College of the Arts at Rider University. The Choir College continues to train its graduates for church music leadership as part of Rider University’s emphasis on academic and professional training.
Indeed the work of the Westminster Choir, Joseph Flummerfelt, the Choir College, and this recording represent a Legacy for the finest in choral music; it is aptly titled. Keep this recording as a valuable treasure of the Best.more....
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