October 31, 2007

Grex Vocalis - Edvard Grieg

Grex Vocalis - Choral music is a genre rarely associated with Edvard Grieg, but this CD reveals him as a composer with distinctive gifts for choral writing. He composed about 50 choral works, and this CD includes about half of them, including his final work, an a cappella setting of four Psalms. The pieces are notable for their musical variety; they include children's songs, folk-song arrangements, and music for liturgical use, and while many are recognizable as Grieg's work, several have an eccentric quirkiness that sheds new light on his musical personality. "Kvålins halling," for men's chorus and bass solo, a traditional Norwegian fiddle dance to which the composer sets nonsense syllables, is the most wonderfully odd; it has a kind of rocking, proto-minimalist pattern sporadically interrupted by bursts of late-Romantic harmonic effulgence. The collection contains one familiar work, a choral arrangement of "Våren" (Last spring), perhaps his most famous solo song. The Psalms are models of expressive, harmonically rich Romantic vocal writing. The CD includes pieces for mixed voices as well as men's and women's choruses. The works presented here offer a wealth of attractive choral music that deserves to find a place in the repertoire of choirs interested in venturing beyond the standard literature. The Norwegian ensemble Grex Vocalis, conducted by Carl Høgset, sings with a warm, ringing tone; excellent intonation; and a beautiful blend. The soloists make a strong contribution; tenor Magnus Staveland sings with passion and sensitivity and bass-baritone Daníel Óskar Daníelsson's boisterous performance adds to the rollicking fun of "Kvålins halling." 8662 SACD 16.95

Posted by acapnews at 10:13 PM

October 25, 2007

Kansas City Chorale - Grechaninov

Kansas City Chorale - The Grechaninov 'Passion Week' is a setting of thirteen pieces with texts in Church Slavonic meant to be sung individually over the period of Passion Week, the days leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The Russian Orthodox Church has a tradition of morning and evening services during Passion Week when the passion week's events are recalled almost in 'real time.' The music itself is generally slow, meditative, largely monophonic and almost trance-like. One notices that the usual number of singers in these two choirs has been supplemented by several additional basses, no surprise considering the long legato lines required of that section. Their low C's and even B's resound like the tolling of great bells throughout the work. One could almost surmise, if one didn't know, that this was the singing of a Russian choir, so noted for their deep basses, except that the blending and rounding of the choral tone is so very much more subtle than is generally heard from Russian choruses. The work is entirely a cappella and there are occasional soprano, tenor and baritone solos which consist mostly of chants sung against the main body of massed sound. 8687 SACD 24.95

Posted by acapnews at 11:06 PM

October 20, 2007

Seattle Girls Choir - Mosaic

Seattle Girls Choir - Seattle is well-known for the vibrancy of its homegrown music. Seattle Girls' Choir's newest CD, 'Mosaic' adds to the richness of the region's musical heritage. 'Mosaic' blends sacred and secular pieces sung in the soaring treble choral style for which the choir is famous. The CD has been released in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Seattle Girls' Choir. 'Mosaic' is a compilation of the choir's all-time favorite classical vocal music that has been sung on tours and at music festivals spanning the United States to some of the great cathedrals of Europe. Some great sacred pieces included are 'Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One,' 'The Song of Solomon,' and the always stirring double choir 'Ave Maria,' by Gustav Holst. Memorable secular pieces included are 'Vier Gesange' by Brahms and Randall Thompson's moving 'Choose Something Like a Star.' Also, another fine recording included is Jackson Berkey's 'Nunc Dimittis.' Berkey's outstanding treble music served as the inspiration for two previous Seattle Girls' Choir CDs. This is an excellent collection of music, for anyone who appreciates beautiful treble choir music! 8633 CD 15.95

Posted by acapnews at 1:06 AM

Doreen Rao - Circle of Sound - Voice Education

Doreen Rao - Circle of Sound Voice Education is a contemplative approach to singing that blends Eastern breathing meditation and martial art movement forms with Western bel canto vocalization exercises as an inspiring and healthful way of enriching traditional approaches to studio, classroom, and rehearsal pedagogy. Renowned choral conductor and master teacher Doreen Rao, together with taijiquan teacher Bill Perison developed this inspiring cross-cultural vocalization practice after years of observing and conducting vocal groups around the world. Their conscious-breathing, international-movement and informed-vocalization exercises are a powerful and proven practice for all singers and conductors. This book connects the power of singing to the wholeness of body, mind and spirit. The book invites you to make a personal connection to its renewing approach, and bring its healing power to the singers that you guide and inspire. 6576 BOOK 15.95

Posted by acapnews at 12:09 AM

October 12, 2007

Polyphony - Anton Bruckner

Polyphony - The a cappella motets of Anton Bruckner (1824- 1896) are miniature masterpieces, containing intensely expressive harmonic writing and a feeling of private devotion within a generously scaled framework. Here the selection includes Ave Maria, Locus iste, Christus factus est, Vexilla Regis, Os iusti, Virga Jesse floruit and Pange lingua. At the other end of the spectrum, the sensuous Mass No. 2 in E minor inhabits the world of Bruckner’s monumental symphonies. Stephen Layton leads the GRAMMY®-nominated choir Polyphony (and the Britten Sinfonia, in the Mass) in these gloriously passionate performances. 8670 CD 17.95

Posted by acapnews at 1:52 AM

October 10, 2007

Theatre of Voices - Stimmung

Theatre of Voices - With the 1968 Paris première of his Stimmung, Karlheinz Stockhausen (b. 1928) exploded the very definition of vocal performance. This musical tour de force, made up of an unbroken sequence of 51 sonic models - entirely built on the overtones of B-flat and presented in every possible voice combination - experiments with new compositional techniques and deconstructs the mechanics of speech and song. Paul Hillier, a champion of early and contemporary vocal repertoire, leads Theatre of Voices in his newly created “Copenhagen version” of a milestone of 20th-century music that today remains as relevant as ever. Hillier’s life-long relationship with Stimmung began in the 1970s when he performed it as a member of Singcircle with the composer at the controls. The serene but highly charged aural landscape of the work has its roots in Stockhausen’s assimilation of global musical currents as he traveled the world in the 1950s and 1960s - from mystic experiences in Mexico to Tibetan overtone singing. Surprisingly, this is one of Stockhausen’s most accessible compositions: spiritual yet humorous, mystical yet worldly and erotic in its poetry. Following the performances Theatre of Voices gave in the UK, the Times of London called them “mesmerizing” and The Daily Telegraph described the event as “evoking a feeling of ritual and tranquility.” This SACD-only release is a demonstration-quality recording that is certain to wow the most exacting of audiophiles. 8668 SACD 19.95

Posted by acapnews at 2:37 AM