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


Tudor 7188


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
 

CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Light and Gold
Eric WHITACRE (b. 1970)
Lux Aurumque (2000) [4:15]
Five Hebrew Love Songs (1996) [10:20]
The Seal Lullaby (2007) [4:13]
A Boy and a Girl (2002) [4:34]
Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine (2001) [8:40]
Three Songs of Faith (1999) [13:12]
The Stolen Child (2008) [8:44]
Water Night (1994) [5:27]
Nox Aurumque (2009) [6:19]
Sleep (2000) [5:33]
The Eric Whitacre Singers; Laudibus; The King’s Singers; Pavão Quartet; Christopher Glynn (piano)/Eric Whitacre
rec. August 2010, St. Silas’s Church, Kentish Town, London
DECCA 2743209 [71:16]

Experience Classicsonline

The first thing I ought to say about this disc is that it has been received with rapturous acclaim elsewhere. It features in the best-seller lists. What follows should be read with that in mind.

Reviewing recently a recital by the Dutch choir Cantatrix, I had this to say about two of Eric Whitacre’s pieces, Lux Aurumque and Water Night: “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.” Both pieces feature in this collection, in superior performances. I have listened to them attentively and find no reason to change my view.

The rest of the music was new to me. Five Hebrew Love Songs was originally written for soprano, violin and piano, to words by the soprano Hila Plitmann, who later became the composer’s wife. One can understand, then, that he refers to the songs as “profoundly personal”. They are performed here in a later arrangement for choir and string quartet, and a tambourine is played at one point. There is a fair amount of single line writing, perhaps inevitable given the work’s provenance, and the work does reveal a certain melodic gift. The music is richly scored, sonorous and almost exclusively diatonic, making for very easy listening indeed. It can be enjoyed at a first hearing. The words are sung in Hebrew, but the English translation reveals them to be inconsequential, though this is no bar to accomplished vocal music. I imagine the little Vivaldi-like flurries from the quartet during the fourth song are a response to the mention of snow in the text, but otherwise the music for this song, as for the others, is of unrelieved sweetness. This impression is emphasised by the scoring, both for quartet and choir, and I found it ultimately distasteful.

The Seal Lullaby, for choir and piano, was composed for an animated film that never saw the light of day. The charming words, a lullaby sung by a seal to her young, are by Kipling. About the composition of this piece the composer writes “a simple, Disney-esque song just came gushing out of me.” Just so. The use of silence in A Boy and a Girl is presumably a response to the eternal silence of death as evoked in the final verse. Apart from this, I can find nothing in the text to justify or explain the choices behind the notes or chords of this piece.

Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine uses a wider range of choral texture and technique than the previous pieces in this collection. This includes a couple of passages where the writing resembles an Italian Renaissance madrigal, and then, near the end, some pleasingly economical flying noises, diluted by percussion once again. It’s a very entertaining piece and must be very effective in concert, but how many times one would want to listen to it remains to be seen. The words of Three Songs of Faith are by e. e. cummings, so readers will understand that the faith in question is rather unorthodox. Yet faith it is, with the third song beginning with the line “i thank you God for most this amazing day”. (I imagine that the title of this song and the first line ought to be identical. There is a discrepancy as printed in the booklet, one example among many of poor proofreading.) Listeners will be moved, no doubt, by the sentiments expressed in the words and music of this work. I find it all, again, insufferably sweet and over-rich. Perhaps the most ambitious piece in the collection is The Stolen Child, to a poem by Yeats, composed for the National Youth Chorus of Great Britain and the King’s Singers as a piece they could perform together. The composer points out that the music for the young singers represents the innocent children, whilst that for the King’s Singers represents those who would seduce them and spirit them away. The piece is powerful in its way, with a particularly haunting refrain, but the music does not evoke two opposing worlds in my mind, and the words are difficult to hear much of the time. I don’t think everyone will agree with everything that Charles Anthony Silvestri, who wrote the Latin text of Nox Aurumque, writes about that piece in the booklet, and the composer’s introduction to Sleep is a particularly strange example of his habit of recounting incidents in his life without elucidating the music one bit. This, the last piece on the disc, fades away at the end.

Eric Whitacre’s enthusiasm for British choirs is on record, and here, with three of them, including one he has formed himself, the performances are simply stunning. The recording is very glamorous: witness the piano in The Seal Lullaby. The booklet is very comprehensive, including all the sung texts and copious notes on the performers. The composer has written his own notes on the music; others will be less irritated by them than I was. I counted thirteen images of the composer. The album is dedicated, amongst others, to “my father and mother, for a warm and sky-filled childhood.”

All this music demonstrates the composer’s remarkable ear for choral texture, and there are many moments of near-sublime beauty. The unrelieved richness tires me out, however, and I long for more in the way of melodic line and real counterpoint. I’m happy to admit that this may be no more than a simple matter of taste, and in any event Eric Whitacre’s reputation is assured, just as Puccini’s was, in spite of Shostakovich’s observation to Benjamin Britten: “No Ben, you are wrong. He wrote marvellous operas but dreadful music!”

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.