In April 2002 I
wrote the following about a Rubeda
Canis Musica Release RCM 19705: "This
disc is my choral disc of the year!
I cannot see how it could be bettered,
both musically, performance and recording-wise.
Although it is not available as yet
in the UK, I urge you to get it from
the U.S. (Amazon.com can supply it by
return). You will not regret the investment."
original disc is still not available
in the U.K., although it can be still
purchased through U.S. internet sites.
At long last, we have a British release
of Lauridsenís music, and it is a stunner.
It was recorded by Polyphony, in the
composerís presence in 2003. Whilst
there are small differences between
the two discs, I would be very happy
with either. As it is I have both so
I am doubly happy.
writing is a wonderful experience to
hear. The Hyperion recording is a little
clearer than the American release, and
the Britten Sinfonia plays with a little
bit more feeling than the Los Angeles
written in 1997, and premiered on the
RCD disc, is performed on the Hyperion
disc with identical total timing, but
with different timings for some of the
five movements. The overall effect on
this listener is of no consequence.
I love both interpretations. It was
inspired by the Brahms Requiem, although
there is little similarity between the
two pieces, except for the sense of
dedication and the use of slow, deep
introduction à la Brahms. There
are five movements: Introitus, In Te
Domine Speravi, O Nata Lux, Veni Sanctus
Spiritus, and Agnus Dei - Lux Aeterna.
The devotional character is well to
the front, with soaring choral lines
which make the hairs on the back of
your neck rise up in unison.
The Six Madrigali
is not included on the American
disc, but can be heard in a version
sung by the Nordic Chamber Choir conducted
by Nicol Matt (Bayer BR 100 305). In
this case, the Hyperion issue is superior.
Matt is consistently slower. It is a
distinct improvement to have the madrigals
moving at a slightly faster pace.
When it comes to the
Ave Maria, the Los Angeles Master
Chorale is a little slower, but the
standard of choral singing is the same
Ubi caritas et amor,
also absent from the RCM disc, is a
short choral piece written after the
Los Angeles disc was recorded. It is
in a similar vein to the other pieces
although there is an element of plainchant
present; a new feature of Lauridsenís
Finally we come to
O Magnum Mysterium, premiered
in 1994 by Salamunovich and his choir.
This superb work is worth the whole
price of the disc. It rounds off an
absolutely enthralling disc which I
can't imagine any music lover not being
moved by. The Hyperion performance drags
ever so slightly over its American rival,
but the difference is only very slight.
Stephen Layton takes over a minute longer
which doesnít sound much, but in a six
minute work the difference is significant.
The Los Angeles performance flows better,
but again, the difference is slight.
Polyphony is a much
smaller choir than the Los Angeles Master
Chorale which has both benefits and
shortfalls. Diction is clearer and choral
discipline sounds to be a little better,
but when going at full tilt, the larger
American choir has the edge in terms
of power and body of tone. It is a good
job I donít have to recommend one over
This Hyperion release
is superb and the disc is a must. I
hope you enjoy it as much as I have.