Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS MDT

Contrasts
Henrik GÓRECKI (b. 1933)
Totus Tuus (1987) [8:38]
Jaakko MÄNTYJÄRVI (b. 1963)
Ave Maria (1991) [2:30]
I was glad (2003) [5:44]
Come Away Death (1984) [3:13]
Coen VERMEEREN (b. 1962)
Keanskes Lêste liet [6:38]
Morten LAURIDSEN (b. 1943)
La Rose Complète [4:13]
Dirait-on* [3 :10]
Sa nuit d’été* [3 :29]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
The Shower [2:26]
My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land [4:32]
Go, Song of Mine [4:39]
Eric WHITACRE (b. 1970)
Lux aurumque [3:49]
Water Night [5:02]
Franz BIEBL (1906-2001)
Ave Maria [6:03]
Cantatrix/Geert-Jan van Beijeren Bergen en Henegouwen; Noriko Yabe (piano)*
rec. April, June and August 2008, Nederlands Hervormde Kerk Oosthem (Fryslân). SACD
ALIUD ACDHN0342 [65:34]

Experience Classicsonline

Cantatrix, if one interprets the insert note correctly, is a choir of amateur singers which regularly fulfils professional engagements, both at home in the Netherlands and abroad. The list of members contains twenty-nine names. This is the choir’s first recording.

The pages of Górecki’s Totus Tuus are peppered with expression marks leaving no doubt that the piece is to be sung mainly very quietly and very slowly. The music is repetitive, and the conductor may worry lest the audience become restive, but on a good day the intensity and devotional quality of the piece can be maintained right up to the two bars of silence, the second with a pause mark over it, that the composer has placed at the end. In this performance the quiet passages are consistently a notch or two above what is demanded, and the tempi too. The Holst Singers and Stephen Layton, on Hyperion, add almost two and a half minutes to Cantatrix’s timing, and it shows.

Of the three pieces by Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi (not Mäntyjärvy as printed in the booklet) the Ave Maria features free chanting and whispering of the text, long-held hummed notes and parallel chords. His setting of Shakespeare’s famous song does not, to my ears, even begin to live up to the demands of the words. I was glad is another matter. The composer has found appropriate music for these passages from Psalm 122, and if traditional listeners are surprised that it’s nothing like Parry, well, why would it be? The pronunciation of the text, whilst acceptable, betrays the fact that the singers are not native English speakers.

Górecki, Mäntyjärvi, Lauridsen and Whitacre all belong to that unofficial school of composers who bring pleasure to professional and amateur choral singers by way of approachable and singable music which nonetheless remains recognisably modern. Let us now add to the list the name of Dutch composer Coen Vermeeren. His website reveals him to be a composer of mainly sacred choral music, but Keanskes Lêste liet (“Keanske’s Last Song”) is written to a secular text in the Frisian language by Gerrit Breteler. The work is extremely well written for the choir, coping well at one point with some dangerous onomatopoeia – bell sounds – and featuring rather more in the way of harmonic surprises than is often the case in this “unofficial school”.

The actual sound of Morten Lauridsen’s music is so beautiful that one sometimes feels manipulated by it. He has a sure understanding of the right moment to add a crescendo or fortissimo too, so that even when the head complains that this is altogether too sweet for comfort, the heart tends to overrule it. La Rose complète and Dirait-on are the last two songs in a cycle of five entitled Les Chansons des Roses. In the complete work only the fifth song is accompanied, the piano stealing in on the last chord of the fourth song; the final one then following without a break. This is nerve-wracking for the conductor: pitch only needs to have sunk by a quarter of a tone for it to be audible. Cantatrix do not attempt that here. All three Lauridsen pieces are absolutely gorgeous, and the soft-toned writing seems particularly suited to this choir, making these some of the finest performances on the disc. The conductor has chosen a very rapid tempo for Dirait-on though, transforming it into something other than what we are used to.

Elgar’s part songs sit uneasily in this company. He needed a larger canvas on which to spread his thoughts, and these works are difficult to bring off. In My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land, a less consistently emphatic push on the first beat of the repeated rhythmic cell would have helped give the performance a more idiomatic feel, and though Go, song of Mine begins well, the choir does not sound fully at ease thereafter, and the final, single word, “Go” is sung as if the choir doesn’t quite believe in it.

Gorgeous is again a word which comes to mind in connection with the music of Eric Whitacre, and though both of the pieces on this disc have gained wide currency, I find them less compelling than the rest of the programme. One lush, multi-voiced chord follows another, creating lots of atmosphere, but repeated hearing doesn’t reveal much more than this. Neither is there much in the way of melodic writing in either of the works given here.

The programme ends with a choral favourite. Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria exists in various forms. Here, the composer demonstrates his skill at contrasting and combining the men’s and the upper voices. The opening chorus is heard three times, which is pushing it a bit, lovely though it is. It is preceded each time by a short passage of chant from a soloist, not universally well taken here, and the first soloist and the choir are not at all in agreement in respect of pitch. Overall, though, these performances are very fine; occasional (and minimal) tuning problems – in the Mäntyjärvi pieces, for example – and a certain passing “whiteness” of tone are among the few factors that would lead a listener to suspect that these were not professional singers.

The recording, which I have heard only in normal stereo, is atmospheric but close, allowing a few creaks and page turns to be heard. Sibilants are sometimes over-audible. The booklet prints the texts in English or Latin, and the Vermeeren is given in the original language with an English translation. The notes, in three languages, are skimpy and the whole could have been better proofread. One reads that the programme is very varied, hence the CD’s title, but in fact there is not much in the way of variety here, and it may have been unwise to launch the choir’s recording career with a recital programme consisting of so many short works by so many different composers, and in the case of Lauridsen, extracts from larger works which are already available from very accomplished choirs indeed. Nonetheless, Cantatrix is clearly one of the very finest amateur choirs around, and if the programme appeals the disc will bring much pleasure.

William Hedley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.