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Evocation O/T Spirit/Totus Tuu Import

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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58th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Discover this year's nominees on CD and Vinyl, including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best New Artist of the Year, and more. Learn more

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 7 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Universal Music Group
  • ASIN: B000003D19
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
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1. Gorecki: Totus Tuus
2. Magnificat
3. I. Kyrie
4. II. Gloria
5. III. Credo
6. IV. Sanctus
7. V. Agnus Dei
8. Agnus Dei
9. Friede Auf Erden

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Having had the privilege of singing with Shaw on many occasions, I know and honor him as a passionate choral technician and teacher who could always bring out better than the best in an amateur group. Nearly all the choral directors I've ever sung under pull "Shawisms" from their bag of tricks to improve pitch and accuracy. However, in today's era where we can choose from a plethora of professional groups (Montiverdi Singers, Tallis Scholars, Dale Warland Singers, etc.), sadly, Shaw's recordings usually don't compete.
Particularly in his final years when he would hold his Summer Festivals in Southern France (attracting a huge flock of choral directors), the recorded product (released on a series of Telarc recordings) has been consistently mushy and lugubrious - this one in particular! The usually fine Telarc engineers should be ashamed (as well as their marketers who where obviously trying to ride the Shaw band wagon as far as they could)!
The Barber Agnus Dei (for which I've yet to find a satisfying recording) sounds like the singers are submerged in molasses! The tempo is unbelievably slow and there is a total lack of clarity in the inner parts. I recently was driving through Colorado during the NPR fund-raising week and heard a pair of well-meaning NPR announcers slavering over this recording - I thought I was going to puke!
Much better recordings exist of the Gorecki, Pärt and Martin. With due deference to the master, I wouldn't touch this recording with a ten-foot pole. If you simply must purchase Shaw recordings, stick with the larger choral repertoire - you're guaranteed to get good choral singing and excellent soloists (but usually coupled with a less-than-electric performance).
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I write this review three days after the tragic September 11 events in New York and Washington, three days which left me numbed, during which I searched and searched for music having cathartic value - "music of healing" - largely in vain. For most of that time, the value of listening to music seemed to have eluded me. (Given the circumstances, this must have happened to others as well, even others for whom music is a large part of their lives, as it is for me.)
This was not a state of affairs destined to go on open-ended. I knew that a major part of breaking this "blockage" would somehow involve the recorded work of Robert Shaw, whose recorded performances have in the past led me out of such "wildernesses." And so it was that his recording of the Bach B-Minor Mass (reviewed elsewhere at Amazon.com by me) provided the "lion's share" of healing-through-music. One need only listen to Shaw's performance of the closing "Dona nobis pacem" of this Mass to be instantly uplifted.
But his performance of Barber's Agnus Dei, a choral arrangement by Barber of his Adagio for Strings (which in turn is a string orchestra arrangement of the second movement of his String Quartet, Op. 11), provided me with a healing of an entirely different nature: A searing work guaranteed to cauterize and thereby provide emotional catharsis and release.
One cannot fathom what was going through a very youthful Sam Barber's mind when he wrote this Op. 11 second movement. But we should be thankful that Arturo Toscanini, in 1936, encouraged Barber to arrange it for string orchestra, and that much later (in 1967) Barber chose to arrange it yet again for chorus. And that Maestro Shaw saw fit to include it on this Evocation of the Spirit choral compilation.
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This disc is a soaring masterpiece of truly sublime music. These five pieces of twentieth century choral music shine with the beauty of the moon on a cloudless winter night. Each piece is distinctive; yet they all have a certain quality in common. Robert Shaw and his singers give stunning performances of every one of these pieces.
"Totus, Tuus" a motet by Henryk Gorecki leads off the disc. It is stunningly simple. It is also subtly insistent. It is an excellent vehicle by which to be drawn into the rest of the disc.
Arvo Part's "Magnificat" has an earthier sound dwelling underneath the gently whispering soprano. The liner notes dub the style as being the result of the composer's use of "primitive" materials in the composition of the work. I don't know much about that, but I certainly like the sound of the finished product.
The Mass for double chorus a cappella by Frank Martin is the centerpiece of this disc; a worthily so. Martin probably was, until recently, the least known of these composers. This disc and a few others have been rectifying that situation. Sometimes likened to the work of Palestrina (a favorite of mine) Martin's mass is truly dynamic. This mass has a charged yet timeless feeling to it. The haunting Gloria alone is worth the price of this disc.
Speaking of the price of this disc...Whatever you feel about the other music contained on this recording, I urge you to get a copy just to listen to The Agnus Dei by Samuel Barber. It is based on his mournful Adagio for Strings. To hear this is to hear sheer beauty.
Rounding out the songs on this disc is Friede auf Erden by Arnold Schoenberg. It is probably the least accessible of the pieces; but is also a thing of beauty.
This disc is wonderful. It is great music for using in times of contemplation. It is also great just to listen to for the sheer beauty. I recommend it.
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