Dominick Argento wrote Evensong: Of Love and Angels, a commission from the Cathedral Choral Society of Washington National Cathedral, in 2006 as a memorial to his wife Carolyn, who had died earlier that year. It's a deeply personal and deeply felt work, characteristic of the composer in its lyrical impulse, but even more gentle, understated, and resolutely tonal than is typical for him. Scored for soprano and treble soloists, speaker, chorus, and orchestra, it takes as its framework the Anglican service of Evening Prayer, with additional texts by the composer, including a sung sermon. Its length, scope, and required performing forces make it a work that is not likely to be performed frequently (even though some of its movements could be extracted), so it's good to have it recorded. Among its most appealing sections are the orchestral Meditation, the Prayer for treble, and Phos Hilaron for treble and chorus. The Sermon for soprano, at 12 minutes, tends to ramble musically and is blandly lyrical without a clear sense of structure or direction. Soprano Elizabeth Futral and treble Nelson James LePard Reed sing with purity and sensitivity. J. Reilly Lewis leads the Cathedral Choral Society and an unnamed orchestra in committed performances. The sound is clean and natural, with good resonance.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Evensong: Of Love and Angels, for 2 voices, narrator, chorus & orchestra|