Stephen Paulus was an astonishingly prolific fixture of the American music scene, with some 600 works to his credit. His sudden death in 2014 left classical music—particularly the worlds of opera and choral music—significantly the poorer, so it’s inevitable that we should see his legacy memorialised with new additions to the catalogue. Royal Holloway’s ‘Calm on the Listening Ear of Night’ sets Paulus’s music in dialogue with another Midwestern composer, René Clausen. It’s Clausen whose musical personality emerges most strongly here in these precise performances. His works offer a distinctively American spin on the fashionable Baltic sound world of Ešenvalds and Vasks that is as appealing as it is generous. In pace, which opens the disc, offers eight minutes of lushly filmic excess.
Year 2015 marks the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius (1865–1957), often entitled 'Finland’s national composer'. The fourth album on Ondine by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir is dedicated to the complete works for mixed choir by Jean Sibelius. The award-winning choir, one of the finest of its kind internationally, is conducted here by one of the leading Finnish choir directors, Heikki Seppänen, who has conducted a large number of professional choirs in Finland and abroad. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir’s releases on Ondine have been a critical success: the first release was given an ‘Editor’s Choice’ by the Gramophone Magazine and ‘Disc of the Year’ by the renowned German weekly Die Zeit.
Long before he'd evolved into a fully-fledged cult figure, Joe Meek was the UK's first fully independent record producer. This unique 2CD set traces his career from his earliest sessions, as a sound balance engineer in the mid-'50s, to his emergence as a major songwriter and hit maker in the early '60s. It includes many of Meek's biggest records, including five UK # 1s by, Anne Shelton, Lonnie Donegan, Frankie Vaughan, Emile Ford and John Leyton, plus several other major million selling hits! Indeed, more than half of the sixty sides included herein were significant UK hits. This set also includes several collectors' rarities, previously unavailable on CD, most notably Gary Miller's unfeasibly-rare 'Moby Dick'. John Fraser's 'Golden Cage' and Geoff Goddard's 'Girl Bride'. If you are looking for what is by far the most interesting Joe Meek-related compilation for years then this is it!
Here is some of the most spiritually uplifting music of our generation, sung by that most virtuosic of choirs, Polyphony. Arvo Pärt (paralleled in England by John Tavener) has succeeded in capturing the attention of a broad public through his consummate ability to weave a sense of inevitable power into music of fundamental simplicity. The impressive Berlin Mass which opens the disc was written in 1990, the Credo being a fascinating major-key reworking of the earlier minor-mode Summa; very much an expression of joy at the lifting of the Soviet embargo on ‘sacred’ music in Estonia. Annum per Annum is a monumental work for solo organ and is here performed on the organ of St Paul’s Cathedral: a thoroughly exhilarating experience. The disc ends with the masterpiece De profundis. This most powerful of texts draws from Pärt an inexorable momentum from a beginning almost out of nothing to a devastating climax.
Although he writes in all genres, René Clausen is today one of America’s most popular choral composers, and for more than twenty years he has been the conductor of the internationally acclaimed Concordia Choir of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. On this release, choral works by Clausen are performed by the Kansas City Chorale, another choir of great international renown, whose recording, with the Phoenix Chorale, of Grechaninov’s Passion Week scooped a Grammy® award in 2008, in the category Best Classical Recording, Engineering.
Although outspoken in his support of the post-World War I Parisian avant-garde during his youth, English composer Arthur Bliss ended his long career as a dedicated proponent of a more conservative, neo-Romantic musical aesthetic. Educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge and at the Royal College of Music (where he found his studies with Charles Stanford too stifling), Bliss' earliest music (all later withdrawn and subsequently destroyed by the composer) shows a strong knowledge of and interest in the music of Edward Elgar. After service with the Royal Fusiliers (and later the Grenadier Guards) during the War, however, Bliss' musical aesthetic changed dramatically, and he quickly became known as a thoroughly "modern" composer, owing more allegiance to the exciting happenings ……