Requiem, for mezzo-soprano, chorus, organ & orchestra
- Ubi Caritas et Amore, for double male chorus (05:26)
- Lord, When the Sense of Thy Sweet Grace, for chorus & organ (or orchestra) (05:39)
- O Light of Life, for chorus & orchestra (05:44)
- Jesu, The Very Thought Is Sweet, for chorus & orchestra (06:22)
- Let Peace Then Still the Strife, for chorus & orchestra (05:47)
The fact that the music of Mack Wilberg's "Requiem" sounds so much like Vaughan Williams is no coincidence. Wilberg, associate director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, was asked to write an introit and benediction to bookend a performance of Vaughan Williams' "Dona nobis pacem," and for the introduction he chose the text "Requiem aeternam," and later used this piece as the basis for his own complete "Requiem" setting. Wilberg's aesthetic sensibilities seem to mesh perfectly with those of Vaughan Williams at his most lushly Romantic, particularly the plush, shimmering string writing of the "Tallis Variations." In fact, there are few moments in the "Requiem" where it wouldn't be possible to imagine that this was a newly discovered score by the English pastoralist. That means Wilberg's piece is not notable for its originality, but it also means that it's characterized by absolute compositional confidence, a potent lyricism, and an admirable, emotional directness. Wilberg, like so many composers since the late nineteenth century, decided to pick and choose among the traditional movements of the "Requiem," and to include additional texts. He has omitted the dire texts, such as the Dies Irae, and added three psalms, a medieval hymn text, O Nata Lux, and a selection from John's Gospel. The piece is scored for mezzo-soprano, baritone, chorus, and orchestra. Throughout, the choral writing is far more assured than the solo writing (which are generally the parts that wouldn't be mistaken for Vaughan Williams). Frederica von Stade and Bryn Terfel aren't sounding their absolute most lustrous, but that may have to do with the vocal writing, and hey, even when these two aren't at their absolute best, they're still pretty terrific. The album includes several of Wilberg's attractive shorter choral works, which show he is capable of more stylistic diversity; "Let peace then still the strife" is especially memorable. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, led by Craig Jessop, sings luminously, and the Orchestra at Temple Square lends radiant, colorful support. Wilberg's "Requiem," especially in this fine performance, should be of strong interest to fans of traditional post-romantic choral music.