- Audio CD (July 14 1995)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Best of, Import
- Label: American Choral
- ASIN: B000003M4Q
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
|1. Mass: I Kyrie|
|2. Mass: II Gloria|
|3. Mass: III Credo|
|4. Mass: IV Sanctus|
|5. Mass: V Agnus Dei|
|6. Agnus Dei|
|7. Miserere Mei, Deus|
|8. Requiem: I Salvtor mundi|
|9. Requiem: II Psalm 23|
|10. Requiem: III Requiem aternam|
|11. Requiem: IV Paslm 121|
|12. Requiem: V Requiem aternam|
|13. Requiem: VI I Heard A Voice From Heaven|
The group blends amazingly well, and as has been mentioned they stagger their breathing to the point of inaudibility. Their dynamics are brilliant and powerful, their range is impeccable, and their tone is gorgeous and pure. The vibrato (although at times the tiniest bit intrusive among the higher parts) is generally not overemphasized. Indeed there are many parts that showcase this group's ability to produce as straight a tone as humanly possible (during the ending of Barber's Agnus Dei, it becomes difficult to hear the piece as vocal rather than instrumental, as the last chord is allowed to fade softly yet richly for some 30 seconds).
The recording is very good - it is difficult to capture the sheer resonance of human voices in harmony on disc, but this CD manages it quite well. My greatest complaint would be that the bass is surprisingly soft - when one hears a performance like this in person, the lower parts lend the piece a terrifically rich power that must be heard to be appreciated, yet this CD is just a bit too biased towards the higher parts for my tastes. This is however niggling when one considers the overall quality and balance of this recording.
That being said, what is far more important here is the sheer passion and beauty of these pieces, and the admirable communication of that beauty and passion through the Dale Warland Singers' soulful singing. Frank Martin's Mass is gorgeous at times. I. Kyrie is my favorite piece on this disc - from the somewhat mysterious and almost hauntingly melancholic introduction, the song switches to a powerful and dramatic sound, culminating in an awe-inspiring climax - then falling back and gradually slowing to the lovely ending. Gloria, Credo and Agnus Dei are all fine and very enjoyable songs, though Sanctus/Benedictus is my other favorite from this Mass.
Following is Samuel Barber's own vocal arrangement of his ultra famous and highly popular Adagio for Strings Op. 11. This is one of those songs that, when done well, everyone likes. Seemingly simplistic, especially in comparison the rich and complex chord progressions and rhythms heard elsewhere on this disc, Barber's Adagio never fails to draw in the listener. The vocal version (Agnus Dei, the piece on this disc) is very fine as well, though in my opinion it hardly adds to the piece by making it vocal. Don't get me wrong, I love choral music to the point of believeing it unappreciated. However, I feel that this piece loses the sheer power and force of its climax when sung instead of played; the human voices are simply softer than stringed instruments. That being said, softer is better for a large portion of this piece, and setting it to the text of "Agnus Dei" could hardly be considered a bad move on Mr. Barber's part. The Dale Warland Singers impress with a fine execution of this daunting and difficult arrangement.
Allegri's Miserere mei, Deus is yet another excellent choice in this set. A fairly long piece at 13:11, it still manages to hold my attention. There are some very beautiful parts that will keep anyone who likes this type of music transfixed.
Finally, Howells's Requiem, written after the death of his son (as it states in the notes), is a particularly mournful and heartrending arrangement. Again, I can find no egregious fault with this performance. This piece (or 6 pieces depending on how you look at it) is slightly different from others on this disc in its relatively high number of solo performances. Thankfully, the solos do not exactly draw attention from the music so much as heighten the feeling of isolation and loneliness - these are soloists who have literally become solo in their despair, and the effect is just right.
A beautiful album of extremely tasteful music by a highly professional group - what more could you want?
For me, what makes the disk so special is that that you don't get to hear repertoire like the Martin mass and the Howells requiem all that often. And it is performed here in a way that is very moving - they know this music very well - both musically and its emotional center.
I can't get over the sound of this group. So balanced, so able to make the soft sounds full and still disappear to nothing. And when they need power, they can go all the way up without shrieking or howling.
This is a fine group and a gorgeous recording of some wonderful music.
The Dale Warland Singers are one of the world's finest choral ensembles, known for their precise technique, silken tone, and adventurous programming. Many outstanding composers have written pieces for them, capitalizing on the group's talent and unique sound. This disc is one of the Warland group's finest achievements. Not only is the program well-considered and expertly sung, but the pristine, virtually noise-free recording is a delight.
My personal favorite is the Howells "Requiem," a deeply moving piece written in 1936. The composer's sad inspiration was the death of his son, and from that grief emerged this stirring creation. This masterpiece receives a mystical and intense performance here that will haunt you long after it has ended.
The Barber "Agnus Dei" (based on his "Adagio for Strings") is gorgeously done, with the long lines powerfully sustained, and the chorus making the tricky intervals sound easy. If you are familiar with the "Adagio" you owe it to your ears to this arrangement for chorus - quite a celestial experience. And Frank Martin's "Mass" is probably the least well-known piece on the program - a pity, but perhaps a performance as glowing as this one will make a better case for it.
The oldest work on the program is the Allegri "Miserere," in an excellent performance. For me, it does not quite displace my favorite by the Tallis Scholars on Gimell, but it is still outstanding choral singing by any measure.
The sound on the recording is amazing - crystal-clear and natural, with no background noise. After hearing this group's other stunning CD on American Choral Classics ("December Stillness"), I can only conclude that ACC is one of the finest small labels around.
An excellent, striking recording, both artistically and sonically, of one of the finest choral ensembles you will ever hear.