Best known for his seminal jazz recordings in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dave Brubeck
is also an accomplished composer of concert music. This two-disc set, recorded during an intense series of sessions with the London Symphony Orchestra and a pair of English choirs, focuses on sacred works: the dramatic Easter oratorio, Beloved Son;
a series of characterful variations on the Gregorian chant "Pangue lingua"; The Voice of the Holy Spirit: Tongues of Fire,
a vivid retelling of the story of Pentecost; and, finally, Regret,
an elegiac, lyrical meditation for string orchestra. While the style of all four compositions is firmly in the classical tradition, each features an improvisatory interlude where Brubeck (as pianist) and his quartet provide jazz-inflected commentary. The immediate appeal of Brubeck's music should come as no surprise to those familiar with his memorable jazz tunes, such as "Take Five" and "Kathy's Waltz." But these works go deeper than mere surface charm, and even in an intimate setting such as Regret,
the effect is powerfully expressive. While off the beaten path for Brubeck -- and, indeed, classical fans -- it's a path well worth exploring, particularly given that the performances are superb and vibrantly recorded by Telarc's expert engineers.