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Cathedral Classics Best of, Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • 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 11 customer reviews
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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

Product Description

beautiful sacred choral works, 3 by twentieth century composers Frank Martin, Samuel Barber & Herbert Howells, plus 1 from the 17th century by Gregorio Allegri, flawlessly performed by a 42 voice professional choir from Minneapolis-St. Paul

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Format: Audio CD
It's hard not to rave about this recording; all the ecstatic reviews below are right on target.
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.
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Format: Audio CD
I'll begin with the mundane: this 40-person group has great technical mastery and this recording is very fine.
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.
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Format: Audio CD
This is some of the finest singing I have ever heard, recorded very well in a perfect acoustical space. Before I say anything else, I must say: this recording is a marvel.
The gem of the CD is Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" in his own choral arrangement. It is easy to hear why it is not often sung; the lines and phrases are of immense length, and no obvious breaths can be taken. The Singers' technique is astounding in this regard; personally, I cannot tell whether the choir is "stagger-breathing" or not. The climax of the work is a perfectly blended fortissimo-a very difficult thing to manage-followed by a perfectly balanced and blended pianissimo. Warland seems to have been very aware of the necessity for a great deal of sound from the basses; they are never overpowering, but always audible.
The weakness of the CD is Gregorio Allegri's "Miserere." This piece relies heavily on the voice of the soprano soloist; in this recording, she is neither free of vibrato nor in perfect tune when she should be. Her voice is lovely, it's true, but it is not appropriate to a solo written for treble. Furthermore, the DWSingers is an American group; while I applaud my countrymen for tackling this most famous of Renaissance motets, I also realize that a difficult decision had to be made. The Singers decided to sing the "Miserere" in an anachronistic American choral style, rather than learn to sing in a more traditional European style (i.e. "straight-tone," with a more boyish soprano and alto sound. If you enjoy this track, I recommend the spectacular recording by the St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, on their "Hear My Prayer" CD. You will immediately see what I'm getting at.
The Mass by Frank Martin is one of the more unusual "non-modernist" works for choir.
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