This 1990 recording demonstrates how well a collection of related works can be organized into a cohesive program with a clear, far-sighted theme. It is a collection of Stravinsky's choral works, with Les noces (The Wedding) as its focal point. Opening with a collection of traditional Russian bridal songs, the disc then treats listeners to Stravinskian adaptations of Slavonic sacred vocal pieces and Russian peasant songs. As well, the composer's completions of some unfinished Gesualdo scores are included, and the recording concludes with vocal material pertaining to T.S. Eliot. It is a rounded, consistent package with excellent performances by James Wood conducting the New London Chamber Choir and Ensemble as well as the Voronezh Chamber Choir under the direction of Oleg Shepel. Wood and company handle the bulk of the versions heard here. The performing is consistent and easily felt with an atmosphere that is direct and unadorned. Les noces, in keeping with the programming, is faintly rustic and mystical-sounding in comparison to other fine recordings, and is given a uniquely effective rendition. Readers with an opportunity to compare it to Boulez's urbane, ferociously secular-sounding version will appreciate the difference. The sound quality of this choral recording is effectively haunting.
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AllMusic Review by John Keillor
|Les Noces III (The Wedding), ballet in 4 tableaux for vocal soloists, chorus, 4 pianos & percussion|
|Russian Peasant Songs (4), for female chorus ("The Saucers")|
|Russian Peasant Songs (4), for female chorus & 4 horns ("The Saucers")|