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Nocturnes Et Autres Musiques Chorales
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Descriptions du produit
Mid-Winter Songs - Les chansons des roses - I will lift up mine eyes - O come, let us sing unto the Lord - Ave, dulcissima Maria - Nocturnes / Polyphony, dir. Stephen Layton - Britten Sinfonia - Andrew Lumsden, orgue - Morten Lauridsen, piano
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Si vous aimez écouter les voix alors foncez c'est divin!
Lux aeterna, composé en 1995-1997, est une aeuvre moderne d'une rare beauté, intègre et accessible, lumineux, musique émotionnelle pour chaeurs.
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Jim Dearing, Director of Choral Studies
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Best known for his 'instant classic' LUX AETERNA, the gift of Morten Lauridsen is well in evidence with this recording. And while there are other recordings of some of the works here included, this CD is the premiere recording of six pieces that merit the music lover's interest. Lauridsen's 'sound' is that of the widely spread chord that acts as the matrix for the internal development of melodies and ideas. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the completely ethereal 'Ave, dulcissima Maria' written for male voices alone with finger cymbal accompaniment. The sweep of adoration and emotion that pulsates from this beautifully crafted work places it among the great choral compositions of any era.
The NOCTURNES from which the CD takes its title consist of three mixed chorus pieces with piano accompaniment. Set to poems of Rilke ('Sa nuit d'été), Neruda ('Soneto de la noche'), and Agee ('Sure on this shining night'), these three related works bask in the glory not only of Lauridsen's choral writing but also in the variation of three languages. The performances of these works and performed with fine ensemble sound and diction by Polyphony and the direction of Stephen Layton and one the Britten Sinfonia provides the orchestral portion on the well-known 'Mid-Winter Songs'. This is one recording that belongs in every lover of fine choral music and as a superb introduction to those for whom the choral repertoire is a new discovery. Grady Harp, September 07
The Nocturnes are choral settings of three superlative lyrics: "Sa nuit d'ete" by Rainer Maria Rilke, "Soneto de la noche" by Pablo Neruda, and "Sure on this shining night" by James Agee. The Agee nocturne is a worthy effort, but to my ears the other two are crushing disappointments: uninspired music (at best) that doesn't approach the stature of the lyrics and isn't worth a second listen. The first time I listened to them I was stunned and sadly surprised by how bad I thought they were. The Rilke nocturne compares very unfavorably with the Chansons des Roses (which also are settings of Rilke's poetry), and the Neruda was, to my ears, an unbelievable botch of an extraordinary text. (Summary of long argument: I think Lauridsen's music is badly suited to the lyric, which I think he has misinterpreted, and nothing to write home about otherwise.)
I've seen this music reviewed favorably elsewhere, so as a check to my opinion I consulted a close friend, a former student of Lauridsen's at USC who was present at the Los Angeles premiere of the Nocturnes. The (slightly edited) response:
"When I heard the premiere, I was extremely disappointed. When I heard about the interesting new texts he was using ... I hoped he would break away from his safety net and do something new -- let the texts lead him somewhere else. But he didn't. The whole performance, I and [my friends] kept looking at each other in disappointment. I didn't even have the heart to talk to Dr. Lauridsen after. I haven't heard the pieces since, or ever looked at them. ... To tell you the truth, I was embarrassed
for him at the time. ...
"I guess he's afraid to go in a direction that won't get him the accolades of the masses, but if he doesn't, he will lose all his respect as a good
At least I'm not alone, and the texts *are* interesting, but hardly a reason to buy this recording. It's clear that Lauridsen's on the decline. At times his superb craftsmanship -- all of his works are written meticulously -- and adherence to a well-proved formula can still result in memorable music, but too often now these aren't enough to overcome a basic lack of inspiration.
As a believer in free-market economics, I advise leaving this one on the shelf, so as to not encourage Dr. Lauridsen to produce more of the same.
But you might like the Nocturnes better than I do, 12 of the 16 tracks (the two earlier song cycles, the Ave Dulcissima Maria, and the Agee nocturne) are worthwhile, and Polyphony is wonderful -- but there are other fine recordings of this music, and an expanding list of Polyphony CDs that might be a better investment of your money and time.
The Nocturnes, the newest choral work by Lauridsen on this cd, are excellent pieces and are premiered in this recording for the first time. Although each piece is in a different language and composed in a different style with no real connection musically between the 3 pieces (2 are accompanied by the piano while one is a cappella), each piece is tied together through texts that have a nocturnal motif. These songs are sung excellently by polyphony, with great sensitivity to the texts as well as polyphony's squeeky clean sound and excellent diction and balance. My favorite is the setting to james agee's "sure on this shining night". This gorgeous song will make any choral lover's heart melt into musical bliss.
The mid-winter songs are one of lauridsen's older choral cycles and were written for the USC chamber choir originally for piano accompaniment. The Los Angeles Master Chorale premiered the mid-winter songs with orchestral accompaniment on their all lauridsen cd "lux aeterna", and here polyphony follows suit with their own rendition of the orchestral version of the mid-winter songs. This cycle has to be the WEAKEST set of them all, and is horribly sung by polyphony, which is disappointing considering their usual excellence in sound. Compared to the la master chorale version, polyphony's rendition pales in comparison. First, the mics are placed way too close to the choir, so it looses that ethereal ambiance and sound quality that is perfect for songs about winter. Second, layton seems to pay no heed to the text, and BLASTS through each song w/ out any sensitivity toward what is written in the music. They are at a constant Forte throughout the cycle. Where there is piano marked in the score, polyphony is singing at a forte!! Throughout the whole cycle their tonal quality is incredibly harsh and in your face. Overall, this is a horrible recording of the mid winter pieces, especially compared to the gorgeous la master chorale version.
Les chansons des roses
These charming pieces are overall done quite well by polyphony, especially the contre qui rose. The tempo, although slow, is appropriate considering the texts, and allows you to hear the gorgeous chords that lauridsen writes for the voice. Polyphony does an excellent job of milking those chords for all they've got. Again, this vocal cycle has been recorded before by the donald brinegar singers as well the la master chorale, and although polyphony does these songs justice, they still cannot compare to the gorgeous and lush sound of the la master chorale. Layton decided to take some odd phrasing choices with certain pieces, such as in the dirait-on and en une seule fleur, which are not written in the sheet music and make the songs not sound as good as they could be.
Ave dulcissima Maria, I will lift up mine eyes, o come let us sing unto the lord:
Overall, all of these pieces are excellent and beautifully sung by polyphony. The balance, intonation, tonal quality, blend and diction are all up to par. In songs such as "o come let us sing unto the lord", polyphony is able to execute excellent fortes that are more characteristic of a choir twice their size, despite the fact that they are only a chamber choir. The ave dulcissima maria is a beautiful piece set to a medieval text and is again excellently sung by the men of polyphony.
Overall, this is a good cd. However, its inconsistencies make it more difficult to recommend, especially when there are better interpretations of some of these songs by other choirs.