American Choral Music

American Choral Music

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by James Morrow
     
 

The program of this Naxos release offers something less than the broad spectrum of American choral music the title might suggest. With the exception of William Bolcom's "The Mask" (1990), all the music on the album was composed between 1949 and 1960, and it's striking, although each composer had his own individual style, how many ideas were shared. The album's narrow… See more details below

Overview

The program of this Naxos release offers something less than the broad spectrum of American choral music the title might suggest. With the exception of William Bolcom's "The Mask" (1990), all the music on the album was composed between 1949 and 1960, and it's striking, although each composer had his own individual style, how many ideas were shared. The album's narrow focus emerges in the end as a virtue, however. The program sticks together, and it includes at least one lost gem, Irving Fine's "The Hour-Glass" (1949), to texts by the English poet Ben Jonson. These six short a cappella settings are masterful in their handling of choral register, with solo voices weaving in and out of the choir in a tapestry of complex shadings, all the while keeping closely to the contours of Jonson's poetry and maintaining the intelligibility of the texts. The only thing that might not recommend this small work to college and university choirs is its considerable difficulty, but this poses no problem for the choristers of the University of Texas Chamber singers under James Morrow. Throughout, they deliver performances on a par with many professional choirs. The common features in the religious works by Persichetti and Foss that begin and end the program lie mostly in the realm of tonal language, with quasi-medieval techniques such as open intervals and temporary tonal centers established by means of unisons. These require great accuracy of intonation not to sound annoying, and the singing here is never less than a pleasure. Bolcom's set of songs for chorus, soloists, and piano diverges from the rest of the program in its use of vernacular elements, missing from the music of the mid-century. The singers again display maturity beyond what is expected in their handling of the devastating emotional collapse in "Heritage" (track 10), one of Bolcom's subtlest uses of the ragtime idiom. Strongly recommended for fans of American choral music of any type, despite Naxos' penny-wise, pound-foolish ways; the package is stuffed with an entire second booklet of advertising, but the listener is forced to the Internet to get the sung texts.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/27/2010
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943935828
catalogNumber:
8559358
Rank:
297995

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Psalms (4) for chorus, 2 pianos & orchestra  - Lukas Foss  - Dwight Bigler  - James Morrow  -  University of Texas Chamber Singers  - John Wiles  - Lisa Roane Holt  - Alena Gorina
  2. The Hour Glass, for 4 voices  - Irving Fine  - Ben Jonson  - James Morrow  -  University of Texas Chamber Singers  - John Wiles  - Lisa Roane Holt  - Ben Johnson  - Carla Flores  - Eric Neuville  - Meredith Ruduski  - Sarah Bannon
  3. The Mask, for chorus, piano & chamber ensemble  - William Bolcom  - Dwight Bigler  - Gwendolyn Bennett  - James Morrow  -  University of Texas Chamber Singers  - Richard Bruce  - Paul Laurence Dunbar  - Charles Cyrus Thomas  - Thomas Jefferson Anderson
  4. Carols of Death, pieces (3) for chorus  - William Schuman  -  Walt Whitman  - James Morrow  -  University of Texas Chamber Singers
  5. Mass, for mixed chorus, Op 84  - Vincent Persichetti  - James Morrow  -  University of Texas Chamber Singers  - John Wiles

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