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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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"Make His Praise Glorious - American Psalmody I"
Samuel ADLER (1928- )

Psalm of Dedication (Psalm 100) [2.36]
Mark Albro, Sr. Rosemary Ingwersen, trumpets
Charles IVES (1874-1954)

Psalm 90 (1923) [11.01]
Sr. Mary Minor, Michael Hale, Pamela Jordan, Sr. Elena Entwistle, Br. Steven Velie, bells & percussion; Br.Peter Logan, tenor; Kathy Schuman, soprano.
Alan HOVHANESS (1911-2000)

Make a Joyful Noise, Op 105 [19.52]
Mark Albro, Sr. Rosemary Ingwersen, trumpets; Br. Richard Craig, tenor;
James Pfeiffer, Br. Benedict Young, trombones.
Daniel PINKHAM (1923- )

Thou Hast Loved Rightousness (Psalm 45) (1959) [3.23]
Behold How Good and How Pleasant (Psalm 133) [1.28]
Thou Hast Turned My Laments Into Dancing (Psalm 30) [1.16]
Open To Me The Gates of Righteousness (Psalm 118) [0.54]
Ronald A. NELSON (1927- )

O Lord Thou has searched Me and Known Me [5.20]
Robert STARER (1924- )

Psalms of Woe and Joy [9.40]
Howard HANSON (1896-1981)

How Excellent Thy Name [5.12]
Randall THOMPSON (1899-1984)

The Lord is My Shepherd (Psalm 23) [9.54]
Gloriæ Dei Cantores, Elizabeth C. Patterson, conductor; James E. Jordan, organ
Recorded at Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Massachusetts, USA, 1998(?)
Booklet notes and texts in English
GLORIÆ DEI CANTORES GDCD 025 [69.49]

When I saw this disk performed by a chorus and musicians resident at the Community of Jesus religious commune on Cape Cod (that sound you hear is the County Assessor weeping at the thought of all that expensive real estate off the tax rolls), distributed by them to be sold in church bookstores, and consisting exclusively of Psalm settings, I was, to say the least, not looking forward to hearing it. I am for the most part a Buddhist and generic Jahvistic religious music usually bores me at best. However, after one look at the list of composers and ten minutes into the disk I was cheering. The Psalms after all are Hebrew poetry and part of our common human heritage of great literature. Even sung in English there’s not a whole lot for even an agnostic to find objectionable in the texts, which don’t actually come across that clearly most of the time anyway. But obviously they do serve to inspire the singers, who are excellent. No amateur Sunday church choir here!

With all this use of Latin, and the "Brothers" and the "Sisters," and being so close to Boston, this Community of Jesus must be mostly Catholic but they specifically state on their website that they are not doctrinaire and invite to their community all those who seek God (however one may define Him/Her/It/Them).

Samuel Adler’s textbook on orchestration lies open on my desk whenever I’m reading scores. As a composer he’s OK; this short fanfare is appropriately bright, with the expected augmented intervals and the just slightly off the beat rhythms, and the musicians all do a fine job. (I want to SEE Sister Rosemary play that trumpet!)

An English friend once said to me, ‘I guess you have to be really American to like Charles Ives.’ The truth is 99% of Americans can’t stand Charles Ives, who is much more appreciated by British musical scholars. My favourite Charles Ives story relates how he was sitting in the balcony of a hall listening to a performance of one of his works. A youth sitting next to him was complaining loudly and booing the music. Ives turned to him and said, "Young man, you just sit there quietly and take it like a man!" But this work is one of those rare works of his that is easily accessible, expressing mystery instead of madness. This time we have Sister Mary on chimes and Sister Elena on drums.

Alan Hovhaness, one of my all time favourite composers has produced one of his finest works, here recorded for the first time. Brother Benedict makes a fine cantor, and again we have Sister Rosemary on trumpet. This work begins with an amazing, wonderful, chord for organ, even stranger than the one that begins the Ives piece. The chorus and baritone intone Psalms 54 and 55 which are anything but joyful. Then, we get to hear a joyful noise. Even though Hovhaness was long associated with the Pacific Northwest, he was born and grew up in Massachusetts, so he is a hometown kid and these singers give his to music a special reverent intensity.

There was no surprise in finding that the Howard Hanson and Randall Thompson (author of the famous a capella Alleluia) works were especially beautiful, but while the name Daniel Pinkham is not unfamiliar, work of this quality associated with it is. The Robert Starer works were harmonically very adventuresome, perhaps not quite 12 tone but close to it, yet with none of the starkness or violence of Schoenberg. All the soloists performed their difficult parts with perfect ease and commitment and excellent tone.

Paul Shoemaker



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