First of all let me state that the 4 stars isn't for the performance...which is truly outstanding...it is for a few pieces that are a tad sub-par. I also want to mention that its not that the pieces are modern either, I happen to be extremely sympathetic to modern music. I usually don't like to do reviews this way, but I'm going to make a few comments piece by piece: 1) CRADLE SONGS - The first two of this trio of lullabies are great...the ones from Brazil & Poland are hauntingly beautiful...I'm not so crazy about the one from Tobago. A fairly strong piece, its certainly interesting. 2) VILLAGE WEDDING - This is one of the best three pieces on the album, and probably the best. Hearing John Tavener's work next to his contemporaries is an easy indicator of why he is considered one of this century's greatest and certainly one of the greatest living composers. Simultaneously it is joyous, austere, reverent & spiritual. Simply beautiful & amazing. 3)...
This compilation is essential listening, especially (but not exclusively) for those already introduced to the marvels of Chanticleer. It features a wide variety of contemporary madrigals all dedicated to the theme of love. Gorgeous polyphony, entrancing dissonance; the music is very difficult, but Chanticleer's vocalism is exemplary, as always. The whole feel of the album takes some getting used to for the uninitiated. After a few listenings, though, one can fully perceive its unique and sublime beauty.
Highlights abound. The first three tracks, all lullabies by Steven Stucky, are brilliantly executed, but it is track four, Village Wedding by John Taverner, that first knocked my socks off. It seems to represent the absolutely ideal match between composer and performer, between written and sung text. It consists of a wonderful poem by Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos, with a recurring excerpt from the Eastern Orthodox wedding ceremony interspersed throughout. Taverner is...
Chanticleer is one of the USA's finest choral ensembles, and they have picked a marvelous and diverse program for this recording -- with something that would appeal to absolutely everybody. The inclusion of two "husband-wife" pairs in the choice of music also makes for a special connection to the theme of the disc. Of special note to this reviewer are the "delicious" sonorities of Bernard Rands's "Canti d'Amor" and Augusta Read Thomas's "Love Songs" -- Chanticleer is a group who is able to pull off this difficult music beautifully. This recording was absolutely deserving of the Grammy that is received -- one of the finest discs of modern choral music in the past few years.
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