Whitacre: Cloudburst & Other Choral Works

( 2 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
It's easy to understand why the young composer Eric Whitacre has become such hot property in the choral community: With his phenomenal ear for melody and harmony, he's written beautiful works that are truly gratifying for a chorus to perform. This recording isn't the first to be devoted to Whitacre's choral compositions, but thanks to the dedicated and impassioned performances of the superb British choir Polyphony, directed by Stephen Layton, it's a disc that seems destined to spread the word about Whitacre's talent to a broader classical music audience. The composer has an excellent ear for poetry, choosing verse by Emily Dickinson, Octavo Paz, Federico García Lorca, ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
It's easy to understand why the young composer Eric Whitacre has become such hot property in the choral community: With his phenomenal ear for melody and harmony, he's written beautiful works that are truly gratifying for a chorus to perform. This recording isn't the first to be devoted to Whitacre's choral compositions, but thanks to the dedicated and impassioned performances of the superb British choir Polyphony, directed by Stephen Layton, it's a disc that seems destined to spread the word about Whitacre's talent to a broader classical music audience. The composer has an excellent ear for poetry, choosing verse by Emily Dickinson, Octavo Paz, Federico García Lorca, and e.e. cummings, among others, and setting it in a way that never fails to bring out the emotion underlying the words. Each of the 14 selections here has gorgeous moments in which lyrics and music come together forcefully: the repetition of "As I surrender unto sleep" that concludes Sleep, for example, and the luminous tone clusters enhancing every word of the cummings setting hope, faith, life, love. The latter technique shows a lesson learned from Ligeti, while When David Heard shows the influence of Arvo Pärt's mystic minimalism. But on the whole, Whitacre's eclectic style favors the tried-and-true over experimental adventures he's also said to be inspired by pop music, but it's hard to hear that connection; there's nothing here that gives off the scent of crossover. Remarkable as it is to find a composer writing such self-assured music while still so young -- how did a 25-year-old conjure up the sublime resources that animate the 1995 Octavio Paz setting Water Night? -- it's tantalizing to imagine where Whitacre might go from here.
All Music Guide - James Manheim
This disc was a bestseller straight out of the box, one of a precious few collections of new music by a contemporary composer of which that might be said. Eric Whitacre is a fifth-generation Nevadan who couldn't read music when he enrolled at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. On his first day in the choir, which he joined because of some pretty girls in the soprano section, they rehearsed the Kyrie from Mozart's "Requiem" -- and, says Whitacre, "My life was profoundly changed on that day, and I became a choir geek of the highest order." He began to write choral music that drew on the styles of the man who became his teacher, John Corigliano, and on the minimalist choral works of Arvo Pärt and John Tavener without sounding much like any of them. His music is marked by unusual choral effects including, most characteristically, a fleeting, shimmering use of dissonance, with sequences of what might be called micro-resolutions. The music is accessible to any listener, consonant but not really tonal, and driven by close attention to a wide variety of poetic texts, for which Whitacre devises unique forms of declamation. The longest work on the album is a setting of the Bible verse beginning "When David heard that Absalom was slain..." with much of the duration given to crystalline, shifting, very moving repetition of the words "my son." All of the music on this disc is a cappella except for the title track. Other works set poems by Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, Octavio Paz in a mixture of Spanish and English, Federico García Lorca, Edmund Waller, and various contemporary writers. Whitacre's sensitivity to these texts alone raises his music well above the norm, and his instinct for choral writing adds to the interest of these short works. His work is more rigorous than Rutter's, less mystical than Pärt's, and choral singers and directors who haven't heard Whitacre yet need to make it their business to do so soon. Polyphony, an English choir with an ear for outstanding American choral music, delivers beautifully shaped lines, clear text articulation, and clean execution of Whitacre's little clusters of tones that resolve themselves into patterns as if an aural kaleidoscope were slowly turning. The sound environment, as usual with Polyphony, is perfectly suited to the music. Cloudburst deserves every bit of its considerable success.
Gramophone - Barry Witherden
This beautifully performed and recorded CD contains the bulk of Whitacre's choral canon and displays his delicate yet vital approach to writing for voices. I guess if you like Tavener (or Part, who is strongly evoked in David), you'll enjoy Whitacre.
BBC Music Magazine - Terry Blain
Cloudburst is...a dazzling kaleidoscope of busy clamour.... Mightly effective, it's superbly performed.

This beautifully performed and recorded CD contains the bulk of Whitacre's choral canon and displays his delicate yet vital approach to writing for voices. I guess if you like Tavener (or Part, who is strongly evoked in David), you'll enjoy Whitacre.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/14/2006
  • Label: Hyperion Uk
  • UPC: 034571175430
  • Catalog Number: 67543
  • Sales rank: 232,682

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Songs of Faith (3), for chorus: No. 3. i thank You God for most this amazing day - Eric Whitacre & E.E. Cummings (6:05)
  2. 2 Flower Songs (3), for chorus: No. 1. I hide myself - Eric Whitacre & Emily Dickinson (2:51)
  3. 3 Sleep, for chorus - Eric Whitacre & Stephen Layton (5:33)
  4. 4 Songs of Faith (3), for chorus: No. 1. i will wade out - Eric Whitacre & E.E. Cummings (2:45)
  5. 5 Flower Songs (3), for chorus: No. 3. Go, lovely Rose - Eric Whitacre & Stephen Layton (4:07)
  6. 6 When David Heard, for chorus - Eric Whitacre & Stephen Layton (12:57)
  7. 7 Songs of Faith (3), for chorus: No. 2. hope, faith, love, life - Eric Whitacre & E.E. Cummings (3:50)
  8. 8 Cloudburst, for chorus, handbells, percussion & piano - Eric Whitacre & Stephen Layton (8:25)
  9. 9 Flower Songs (3), for chorus: No. 2. With a lily in your hand - Eric Whitacre & Stephen Layton (2:27)
  10. 10 This marriage, for chorus - Eric Whitacre & Stephen Layton (2:59)
  11. 11 Water Night, for chorus - Eric Whitacre & Stephen Layton (5:03)
  12. 12 A Boy and a Girl, for chorus - Eric Whitacre & Stephen Layton (4:25)
  13. 13 Her sacred spirit soars, for chorus - Eric Whitacre & Stephen Layton (5:08)
  14. 14 Lux aurumque, for chorus - Eric Whitacre & Stephen Layton (4:08)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Stephen Layton Primary Artist
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Simply Beautiful

    All I have to say is Eric Whitacre is a master of choral music. Give this album a good listen to. When I first heard each of these songs, I wept at their beauty. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 100. Highly recommended for those who enjoy choral music and even for those who don't.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews