Under the direction of Paul French, the William Ferris Chorale sparkles in this fine release of music of its founder, the late William Ferris.
More often known as a choral conductor and organist than a composer, William Ferris was a prolific composer. He worked with virtually all combinations of instruments and voices but had a special affinity for choral sound. His "Snow Carols" - the centerpiece of this release - is an excitingly different Christmas collage, good enough to earn Ferris a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize in 1980. French's direction nicely brings out the drama, originality and beauty in each of the five pieces that comprise the work.
In addition, French has selected nine other choral works of William Ferris appropriate to the season. Two of my favorites, "Gentle Mary" and "Long is Our Winter", are luscious little pieces that clearly show how comfortable Ferris was creating something modern and something beautiful at the same time.
The Chorale performs exquisitely under French's leadership, producing a sound that is tonally and dynamically precise and, above all, is molded in excellent phrasing around the texts themselves.