Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


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GONDWANA VOICES: New Light New Hope
Stephen LEEK (b. 1959)

‘A New Gondwana’
Paul JARMAN (b. 1971)

Turn on the Open Sea, ‘The Sea of Berries’, ‘Shackleton’, ‘Volto do mar Largo’
Ronald CORP (b. 1951)

‘Cornucopia’
Elena KATS-CHERNIN (b. 1957)

‘Memorial Rag’
Lydia ADAMS (b. 1953)

‘Mi’Kmaq Honour Song’
Harri WESSMAN (b. 1949)

‘Vesi väsy lumen alle’
Srul Irving GLICK (b. 1934)

‘Psalm Trilogy’
Lyn WILLIAMS (b. 1963)

‘Ferry Me Across the Water’
John RUTTER (b. 1945)

‘For the Beauty of the Earth’
Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967)

Tancnota’ (Dancing-song)
Pablo CASALS (1876-1973)

‘Nigra sum’ (I am black)
Traditional: Torres Straight Island

‘Islands Songs’
Traditional: English

‘The Water of Tyne’
Traditional: Finnish

‘On suuri rantas autius’
Traditional: Basque

‘The Angel Gabriel’
Gondwana Voices/Lyn Williams and Mark O’Leary
Recorded 16th-18th and 22nd-24th January 2002. Woolangong Town Hall, New South Wales, Australia
ABC CLASSICS ABC 478-822-2 [73.17]


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Gondwana is a children’s choir comprising, I would guess, on the basis of the booklet photographs, mainly 14-16 year old girls with a few boys, presumably trebles. The booklet pays tribute to the leadership of the Finn Erkki Pohjola in the evolution and acceptance of children’s choirs around the world. In the UK we are well used to children’s voices, previously mostly boys, singing in the English Cathedral tradition in a repertoire of church music. The difference and challenge here is the eclectic nature of the repertoire addressed, as well as the forward, very natural, vibrancy of the sound, as against the more cultured sound U.K. listeners are used to when listening to young voices.

At first listening I went straight through the disc and found the overall effect to be rather ‘sameish’, but, and it is a vital ‘but’, the contents were interspersed with pieces of music that made me sit up and take extra notice. Typical is Tr.1, ‘A New Gondwana’ composed for the choir to sing in the New South Wales Centennial Ceremony in 2001. Its tonal construction and the choir’s realisation are a delight. Likewise Tr. 5, with rather a long lead-in, with its ‘Wolf Call’ arrangement is another such appealing and arresting piece whilst Tr.16, Paul Jarman’s ‘Ancient City’ reminded me of Puccini’s ‘Butterfly’ and ‘Turandot’ and was sheer delight.

The strengths of the choir are to be found in good articulation and diction allied, where appropriate, to smooth legato and a wide range of expression. Interspersed in the sequence of items, and abolishing that earlier feeling of sameness in my subsequent listening, are Jarman’s settings. These are often with instruments new to me. Tr.12 features a Korean puk, ocean drum and bouzouki! Kodály’s ‘Dancing Song’ (Tr.15) is also very different in texture and in its demands on the skills of the choir.

The recording is clear, well balanced and without congestion. The booklet gives informative résumé’s on each work as well as the words. Any teacher of a school choir, or those interested in hearing children singing a wide selection of pieces, many outside the usual repertoire, will find much to enjoy here.

Robert J Farr

 



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