Featuring the best reviews from our loyal ClassicsOnline members.
(15 September – 28 September)
A Contemporary Choral Delight
After several months of relishing the works of Whitacre and Lauridsen, my appetite for contemporary choral works has grown - I knew I had to get more. Getting this album was initially pretty much a gamble as I have no knowledge of Mr. Moran. This turned out to be a happy experiment!
The Trinity Requiem is a mighty piece with a powerful organ and ensemble backing the haunting voices of the Trinity Youth Choir. The piece ranges from the mysterious Kyrie to the ringing Pie Jesu. It even has shades of the traditional, especially the Offerty - the famous Pachelbel's Canon comes to mind although this one brings a neat twist by bringing a siren literally blaring alongside the well-known bass line (FUNFACT: The siren came, in fact, unintentionally while recording this piece in a church. Mr. Moran never actually planned it in the score but somehow it worked. And this is especially considering that this requiem is dedicated to the victims of 9/11).
However, I must say that the star among stars in this wonderful album is Seven Sounds Unseen - a thrilling piece for acapella choir. It is quite literally a barrage with probably at least a 16-part divisi in the second movement. The outer movements are wordless (reminiscent of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe) with the middle movement dispersed with excerpts from John Cage's several letters to the composer over a period of time. The piece pulsates with a mostly tonic but very rich harmonic language throughout and it is wonderful. The last two pieces are also wonderful but really, Seven Sounds Unseen takes the cake.
I gave it 4 stars since I think the album could use some polish - there are slight intonation problems throughout and the coughing at 0:50 in the second movement of Seven Sounds Unseen. But make no mistake - I definitely have my eyes on this talented composer from now on and I'm looking forward to future works!
Top of the list in value and performance
There have been several good Borodin symphony cycles. I've been looking for the best, and I think I've found it. My previous favorite was Loris Tjeknavorian's set on RCA, however the sound is a bit edgy and compressed, which was common in RCA recordings of the 70s.
Neeme Jarvi's DG set is another one to outdo, but more on the strength of its comprehensiveness than the performances, which are wonderfully played but not nearly as exciting as the present recording by Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle players.
On pretty much all counts, this set is a winner: rousing, beautifully nuanced performances with just the right tempi throughout; gorgeous sound and excellent value. It's Naxos, so you know the price is reasonable, but also all of the symphonies are featured on a single disc. You don't get some of Borodin's shorter pieces like you do on Jarvi's set, but I suspect Schwarz may record those later. I hope. The Seattle orchestra produces a very Russian sound, and no other recording I know of offers such good audio quality. It's a keeper.
Although a funeral mass, the beauty of Mozart's music can give life and dignity to the moment in which death is imperative. Mozart's Requiem can mitigate this serious moment in life. The voices of the choir on the tracks 15 and 16 fill the soul of serenity and seem to really prepare us for the final moment. Bravo!
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