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Posted October 1, 2010
The audience for fine choral music hopefully is growing beyond the seasonal and occasional mighty works of Handel, Mozart, Bach. Certainly with such performing arts groups as the Los Angeles Master Chorale and England's Polyphony recording and performing choral music from the recent past and from the present the appreciation for this inspiring genre will expand. And as long as there are recordings of the caliber of this collection of works by Morten Lauridsen the possibilities are evident. Best known for his 'instant classic' LUX AETERNA, the gift of Morten Lauridsen is well in evidence with this recording. And while there are other recordings of some of the works here included, this CD is the premiere recording of six pieces that merit the music lover's interest. Lauridsen's 'sound' is that of the widely spread chord that acts as the matrix for the internal development of melodies and ideas. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the completely ethereal 'Ave, dulcissima Maria' written for male voices alone with finger cymbal accompaniment. The sweep of adoration and emotion that pulsates from this beautifully crafted work places it among the great choral compositions of any era. The NOCTURNES from which the CD takes its title consist of three mixed chorus pieces with piano accompaniment. Set to poems of Rilke ('Sa nuit d'été), Neruda ('Soneto de la noche'), and Agee ('Sure on this shining night'), these three related works bask in the glory not only of Lauridsen's choral writing but also in the variation of three languages. The performances of these works and performed with fine ensemble sound and diction by Polyphony and the direction of Stephen Layton and one the Britten Sinfonia provides the orchestral portion on the well-known 'Mid-Winter Songs'. This is one recording that belongs in every lover of fine choral music and as a superb introduction to those for whom the choral repertoire is a new discovery. Grady Harp
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