Zachary WADSWORTH (b.1983)
Come to the Road [3.55]
The Far West [42.10]
Luminous Voices/Timothy Shantz
Katie Partridge (soprano)
Lawrence Wiliford (tenor)
rec. St Stephen’s Anglican Church, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 26, 27 April, 30 May 2015 BRIDGE9466 [49.47]
If you enjoy elegiac choral writing, in a modern, tonal, but very accessible idiom, this CD will give much pleasure, though whether this is music of great significance could be questioned. It is undoubtedly well-crafted and at times quietly moving, but there is so much music of which that could be said. It is certainly very well performed.
Zachary Wadsworth was previously unknown to me, but individual pieces are available, though this appears to be the first CD devoted exclusively to his music. His three lullabies, for tenor and piano, appear on and he’ll be mine: love songs by gay American composers on Public Enemy Records (2015). He was born in Virginia and spent time working at the University of Calgary. He is now based at Williams College in Massachusetts. As well as composing he is also a performer, as both tenor and pianist, and can be heard as part of the choir on this CD.
The main work here is The Far West. All the poems set, except the final ‘Heaven’ are by or based on poems by Tim Dlugos (1950 – 1990), a poet who died of AIDS and who studied at Yale to be an Episcopal priest in the last years of his life. The themes of the poetry are religious but within the context of impending death and loss of so many friends and lovers. The final piece, ‘Heaven’, is a setting of George Herbert’s poem, and, for me, perhaps the most beautiful on the disc.
The Far West, for tenor soloist and choir, is accompanied by a small string orchestra of 13 players: the other two works are a cappella, ‘Up-Hill’ adds a soprano solo. Luminous Voices, a professional choir of about 24 voices, based in Calgary, sing with precision and genuine excellence. The quality of recording is very good, and the booklet, with notes by the composer, informative about the music. Some might argue that by today’s standards the CD is short value and perhaps more music might have been included.
The Far West: movements October [4.54]
Et in Arcadia Ego [3.04]
The Far West [6.11]
Breathing in Connecticut [2.19]
Note to Michael [2.29]