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Prism - The Choral Artistry of Gloriæ Dei Cantores
Dominic ARGENTO Let all the World in Every Corner Sing [3’22”]
Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA Super flumina Babylonis [3’13”]
Alice PARKER (arr.) Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal [2’23”]
Edmund RUBBRA Tristis est anima mea [3’12”]
Bruce NESWICK I Will Set His Dominion in the Sea [6’07”]
Jean BERGER The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee [2’21”]
William MATHIAS Missa Brevis Gloria [4’29”]
Josef RHEINBERGER Mass in E Flat major Agnus Dei [4’09”]
Robert STARER Psalms of Woe and Joy Hodu (Glory to the Lord) [3’52”]
Felix MENDELSSOHN Heilig [1’54”]
William MATHIAS Rex Gloriæ Victimæ paschali [6’22”]
Francisco GUERRERO Rorate Cæli [3’02”]
Sergei RACHMANINOV Bogoroditse Devo [2’38”]
Alice PARKER (arr.) Foundation (American Mountain Hymn) [2’37”]
Virgil THOMSON My Shepherd Will Supply My Need [3’51”]
Georgy SVIRIDOV Liubov sviataya [3’12”]
Johannes BRAHMS Est ist das heil uns kommen her, Op. 29, No 1 [5’15”]
Aaron COPLAND arr. Irving FINE Ching-a-Ring-Chaw (Old American Songs) [1’45”]
Leo SOWERBY Eternal Light [2’18”]
Gloriæ Dei Cantores/Elizabeth C. Patterson David Chalmers and James Jordan (organ) Archangelus Brass Ensemble Recorded between 1991 and 2002 at Mechanics Hall, Worcester MA; Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA; and The Church of the Transfiguration, Orleans, MA GLORIÆ DEI CANTORES GDCD 109 [66’35”]



I first encountered the Gloriæ Dei Cantores some years ago when I bought a couple of their anthologies of American choral music, Music of the Americas, 1492-1992 (GDCD 010) and Be Glad Then America (GDCD 008). There are items from both collections in this collection.

This disc is one of the better types of sampler in that it presents a useful taster of the very enterprising repertoire of this choir but, at the same time, it’s a satisfying programme in its own right. Not surprisingly, several of the pieces are American but the range of the choir is well illustrated by the inclusion of music from five different European countries. Chauvinistically I’m delighted to find an American choir doing music by an Englishman (Rubbra) and a Welsh composer (Mathias) and doing it so well. How many comparable British choirs would be so proficient in American music?

The disc opens arrestingly with a celebratory anthem by the American composer Dominic Argento. I’d heard this piece before as it’s on the Music of the Americas CD. However, much of the music by other American composers was new to me. Bruce Neswick’s largely extrovert, exuberant I Will Set His Dominion in the Sea is most enjoyable (there’s a more reflective central section). It features an exciting organ accompaniment, which is well done here.

The choir brings a full, rich sound to the German items. The rich romanticism of Rheinberger’s Mass seems well suited to them. They also do the Bach-indebted motet by Brahms very successfully but here there’s an appropriate lightness of touch.

The performance of the Rachmaninov item (the sixth section of his All Night Vigil) is hushed and intense for the most part but rises to a fervent climax. The other Russian piece, by Sviridov, is also very successful. The choir and the admirable soprano soloist catch the mood of keening sorrow that distinguishes this haunting piece very well. Incidentally, I have had reservations about some previous releases from this source on the grounds that not all the soloists have been quite up to the mark. There aren’t many solo contributions in this anthology but those that there are all done to a very good standard.

As I hope I’ve made clear, as well as a wide and interesting selection of music there is some fine choral singing to enjoy here. The choral tone is firm and clear, whether the singers are flat out or singing quietly (both of which they do to very good effect). Diction, balance and tuning are all excellent. The sound quality is consistently good although the recordings were made over quite a period of time and in a variety of venues. All texts are provided, together with English translations where appropriate. The booklet contains a good number of photographs of the choir. The notes include several personal reflections on individual pieces by members of the choir.

I admire Gloriæ Dei Cantores for their committed musicianship but also (indeed, perhaps more so) for their enterprising repertoire. This CD is an excellent introduction to their discography. It is extremely enjoyable in its own right but I hope it will serve its purpose by prompting purchasers to investigate other recordings by this fine choir.

Recommended.

John Quinn

 




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