A new release from the revered Netherlands Chamber Choir, featuring works by Arvo Pärt. This time the choir teams up with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra in a mixed program of chamber orchestra, choral, and choral a cappella works. The main course on this CD is the rarely recorded and monumental Te Deum. Young Estonian conductor Risto Joost delivers a reading that is rich and inspired.
Youngest son of J.S. Bach, Johann Christian Bach rose to prominence in England during the early Classical period much the same as his father dominated the German Baroque. His writing was influenced by his father, of course, but also by the fashions being explored by Haydn. J.C. Bach also served as a bridge to Mozart, whose work and early writings were also influenced by the junior Bach. A total of 15, three-movement symphonies were published under Opp. 6, 9, and 18.
A few of these small choral gems are well known to amateur choirs, and Poulenc's secular choral pieces are more often presented one at a time on choral albums than in the groupings in which they were originally included. Francis Poulenc: Secular Choral Music offers the composer's very first choral piece, the Chanson à boire for men's voices (1922), but most of the music here dates from either the late '30s (the Petites voix, for female or children's voices, and Sept chansons) or the World War II era (Un soir de neige), the folk-song settings entitled Chansons françaises, and the ambitious Figure humaine, whose final number, "Liberté," was dropped in sheet music form over French cities by Britain's Royal Air Force. Someone once described Poulenc as "part monk, part hooligan," and these a cappella choral works give evidence of both tendencies. The Chansons françaises are cheerful pieces with just a shade of extended harmony, almost French counterparts to Bartók's folk song settings, while the more serious pieces, such as "Un chien perdu" (A Lost Dog), from the Petites voix, have a mystical tinge that links them strongly with Poulenc's better-known sacred choral music.
Though born in Ukraine, composer Galina Grigorjeva has lived in Estonia since 1992 and has worked within that country's deep tradition of sacred choral music. She studied music in Tallinn in the mid-'90s, and her music is thus interesting in terms of representing the thoughts of a younger generation that has absorbed the holy minimalism of Arvo Pärt as well as a variety of other styles from the Slavic world and beyond. Indeed, the unifying stylistic thread of the six works on the album can be hard to find, and indeed the booklet notes by Saale Karede point to "the living light that glows through the music," most of it religious.