Morten Lauridsen: O magnum Mysterium; O nata lux; Madrigali; Mid-Winter Songs

Morten Lauridsen: O magnum Mysterium; O nata lux; Madrigali; Mid-Winter Songs

5.0 2
by Noel Edison
     
 

Based on a handful of skillfully crafted, warmly accessible choral works, Morten Lauridsen has achieved a degree of fame and attracted a devoted following rare for a contemporary American composer. His published output is small, consisting of less than two dozen complete works (although the number grows somewhat when individual movements of larger works are counted,…  See more details below

Overview

Based on a handful of skillfully crafted, warmly accessible choral works, Morten Lauridsen has achieved a degree of fame and attracted a devoted following rare for a contemporary American composer. His published output is small, consisting of less than two dozen complete works (although the number grows somewhat when individual movements of larger works are counted, and various arrangements of the same piece). He is best-known for "Dirait-on," from his choral cycle, "Les Chansons des Roses," settings of poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke. Lauridsen's French text setting is execrably unidiomatic, but it hardly matters because the music is so ravishingly lyrical and memorably melodic that it has nearly acquired the kind of iconic timelessness of a piece like Barber's "Adagio." Even on first hearing, it sounds familiar, as if it had always existed, and it lodges itself so firmly in the ear and mind that for many listeners, it's difficult to imagine a point at which it was not a part of their consciousness. The a cappella motet "O magnum mysterium" may not be as hummable, but for many in the community of choral enthusiasts, it has almost the same status. While he doesn't repeat himself, Lauridsen has a distinctive sound, and his music is recognizable because of his idiosyncratic use of certain characteristic intervals and melodic figures, and his adroit manipulation of unresolved dissonances. This disc, by the Ontario-based Elora Festival Singers, led by Noel Edison, includes three of Lauridsen's cycles, "Madrigali," "Les Chansons des Roses," and "Mid-Winter Songs," as well as "O magnum mysterium" and "O nata lux," from "Lux aeterna." The performances are solid, with secure intonation, tight ensemble, and a warm sound. They don't have the touch of transcendence, though, that the very best performers, such as Stephen Layton leading Polyphony, bring to this repertoire -- a tonal luminosity and fluidity, with a drive toward the ecstatic -- that can give it an overwhelming impact. The singers always sound a little too safe, for instance, in the opening of "Mid-Winter Songs," where the music calls for a punch that's almost surprising in its vehemence. Naxos' sound is clean and warm, but earthbound where it needs to be soaringly expansive.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/27/2009
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0636943930427
catalogNumber:
8559304
Rank:
50303

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Lux Aeterna, for chorus & orchestra: O Nata Lux  - Morten Lauridsen  -  Keith Anderson  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Susannah Howe
  2. Madrigali, 6 Firesongs on Italian Renaissance poems for chorus  - Morten Lauridsen  -  Keith Anderson  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Susannah Howe
  3. Les Chansons des Roses, 5 songs for chorus  - Morten Lauridsen  -  Keith Anderson  - Rainer Maria Rilke  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Susannah Howe  - Leslie De'Ath
  4. Mid-Winter Songs, for chorus & piano  - Morten Lauridsen  -  Keith Anderson  - Robert Graves  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Susannah Howe  - Leslie De'Ath
  5. O Magnum Mysterium, for chorus  - Morten Lauridsen  -  Keith Anderson  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Susannah Howe

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Morten Lauridsen: O magnum Mysterium; O nata lux; Madrigali; Mid-Winter Songs 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Morten Lauridsen is one of the foremost choral composers alive today. His works are performed throughout the world on a regular basis. This recording of some of his best known choral pieces performed by the Elora Festival Singers and recorded on the Naxos label is a delight for your ears. The disc includes solid performances of O Nata Lux and O Magnum Mysterium. The Elora Festival Singers are led by Noel Edison. Their performance is crisp and clean. There is a wonderful vocal symmetry between all vocal parts so that you are really able to hear all of the complex harmonies written by Lauridsen. I highly recommend this cd.
JimD More than 1 year ago
It's a nice touch that the first selection is "O nata lux" and the finale is the ubiquitous "O magnum mysterium." Bookended by these two sacred pieces are two song cycles for chorus and piano, and a set of madrigals reminiscent of Gesualdo in their more dissonant passages. The Elora Festival Singers, led by Noel Edison, deliver some wonderful sounds, particularly the sopranos, bringing a relatively straight tone to the upper register. Although they premiered many of Lauridsen's pieces, the L.A. Master Chorale disc is put out of the running for me by an acoustic which smudges the voices together. On this disc, the sound seems excellently clear in terms of blend and detail. (The Hyperion collection is also good, but costly.) I only wish the composer's terrific setting of Agee's "Sure on this shining night" were here!