…Summary: This is a sensitive, edifying, and at times compelling performance of music from a religious tradition in which unaccompanied choral singing has an absolute and exclusive importance. The recording is clear, smooth, and balanced, and presents some truly exceptional deep bass singing. SA-CD.net
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.
Grainger’s mastery of choral textures shines out of this wide-ranging collection of folk-song arrangements, each highly individual and memorable. Plus his friend Grieg’s finely scored religious settings. Superior performances by Stephen Layton and Polyphony.
The Karajan Official Remastered Edition comprises 13 box sets containing official remasterings of the finest recordings the Austrian conductor made for EMI between 1946 and 1984, which are now a jewel of the Warner Classics catalog. This 5-CD box includes Haydn's Die Jahreszeiten, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and Brahms's German Requiem performed by the Berlin Philharmonic, with renowned vocal soloists such as Walter Berry and José van Dam.
Peter Cornelius was born to actor parents and destined from early life to have a career centred on words and music. He had early contact with the stage and dramatic literature, and like others of the time (such as Schumann), Cornelius immersed himself in German literature at an early age. At the same time he developed an interest in music. After early influences from Beethoven and Schubert, and studies of form and the composition of sacred music in Berlin, Cornelius's musical style matured under the tutelage of Liszt in Weimar.
A second disc from new chamber choir Consortium, who were acclaimed for their disc of Brahms’s secular partsongs. Although Reger’s music has partly recovered from its deeply unfashionable reputation, much of this prolific composer’s work still remains underperformed. This disc offers a chance to redress the balance, both by bringing to light an aspect of Reger’s output that has been relatively neglected, and by demonstrating that the important influences on him were not just musical but literary.