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American Choral Music

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  • Posted July 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A choral grab bag

    There's sacred music and secular in this second such collection by Morrow and his Texas forces; some is accompanied, and some not. The only unifying theme here is that all the composers were/are American. Persichetti's 1960 Mass oscillates between stark threads of chant-like melody and rich harmonies. Schuman: Carols of Death (1958/ Walt Whitman) and Fine: The Hour-Glass (1949/ Ben Jonson) set classic poetry to astringent new music. In the six sections of The Mask (1990, one for keyboard alone) William Bolcom exploits a variety of pretty accessible musical styles. A three-part Psalms (1956) by Lukas Foss shows a definite influence on Bernstein's more famous setting; just the middle section is over-long for its content. Performances and sound are fine, though diction could be better, and you will need to download the texts to get a lot of the words.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Challenging and well-sung choral music

    This is a challenging recording of modern choral works. If you just want a CD of "pretty" choral music, look elsewhere, but if you are interested in new music and want to hear it done well, have a listen! The University of Texas Chamber Singers have a well-blended, Renaissance-esque sound. The sopranos can get a little pushed and strident on the loud straight tone sections, but otherwise have a quite lovely sound. The altos have a particularly rich and unified sound in this ensemble and were my particular favorite section of the choir to pay attention to. Director James Morrow has done a great job of choosing his choral members, and the soloists don't disappoint either. This recording has some very creative and interesting compositions, and my favorite pieces were the Persichetti Mass movements. There are some exquisite moments in this mass, and this choir executes well! This wouldn't be a CD I'd listen to all the time because it is such modern and challenging music. However, it is a great recording of a very fine choir, and these composers deserve to be heard.

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