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WALKER (b. 1947) Now Let Us Sing – Choral Selections for Women’s
Voices How can I keep from singing? [3.53] Gifts from the Sea [4:27] Let evening come [4:17] Six Songs for Women’s Voices [17:18] I thank you God [4:57] The Spirit of Women [10:07] Crossing the Bar [4:54] Hebrides Lullaby [3:48] Peace I ask of thee, o river [4:51] Now let us sing [3:49]
Women’s Chorus of Vermont/Dawn O. Willis
rec. Music Building Recital Hall, University of Vermont,
January and June 2007 Private Recording [62:21]
library of music for women’s voices is hardly massive, so
there’s almost an open invitation to fill what is, essentially,
a yawning gap.
then, Gwyneth Walker – not a name which is well-known beyond
North America, yet she is, apparently, widely performed across
the United States. There could be a reason for that. The
music is approachable, melodious, and somewhat unchallenging.
A number of tracks on this disc are arrangements of some
rather esoteric texts: the opening track, for instance, is
an 18th century Quaker hymn. Most of the content
is sourced from female poets and feature profound, quite
moving, thoughts – perhaps most especially the Six Songs
for Women’s Voices, which feature text by the American
poet May Swenson.
also an interesting setting of e.e. cummings’ I Thank
You God. Walker’s music also draws, extensively, on American
folk music, in particular that of New England.
the performances are perfectly approachable, hardly anything
stands out. It’s all very similar: mezzo-forte from
start to finish. There’s little to challenge and, while the
few solo lines are pleasant, they are hardly the stuff to
set the world of choral music on fire.
anything, it is the accompaniments that are special: there
are some quite intense, complex and interesting bases upon
which the choral textures are built. Love is a Rain of
Diamonds, for instance, or Never Sit Down. The
performances of Shirley Smith and Xiudan Lin show considerable
Bella Voce Women’s Chorus of Vermont (see their website)
has only been performing for five years or so and they sound
also a particular enthusiasm for the music which is evident
recording. Music director Dawn O. Willis clearly has a cultured
group with which she works.
would be interesting to see how they would approach some
of the music for women’s voices written by the likes of Schubert
or Schumann. That might be much more challenging – and telling.
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