The Dale Warland Singers disbanded in 2004 on the retirement of their founder and conductor. Reissues and worthwhile archival material have continued to appear, but the Singers have been in need of well-produced reissues that explore the work of this 40-voice choir and the nature of its accomplishments: it was arguably the best choir the U.S. has yet produced. One of its strengths lay in live performance, and Gothic Records has embarked on a series of reissues of live Dale Warland Singers performances. This one certainly fills the "well-produced" bill. It includes performances from 1981 and 2000, and the remastering work of executive producer Roger W. Sherman should be noted: you're aware of the three sound environments on the album, but there is no lurch between analog and digital sound, and the 1981 recordings of work by Daniel Pinkham, from a pair of Twin Cities churches, are clear and immediate. The Pinkham works, American choral music in the optimist vein, benefit from Warland's expressed commitment. Like John Eliot Gardiner, he had (and still has) a knack for making his presentation of the music part of the overall package. However, for the best of all, consider the opening performance of the familiar Ceremony of Carols of Benjamin Britten, recorded in the year 2000 at the Chapel of Saint Thomas Aquinas at the University of Saint Thomas in St. Paul. This was splendidly recorded, capturing the rich texture of this choir, so different from those of its British counterparts. Warland chose his singers not for adherence to a homogeneous sound ideal but for their individual voices, and the results here are so distinctive that it's almost like hearing the work anew. This is a unique and, yes, a thoroughly American Ceremony of Carols. One enthusiastically awaits further Gothic Records contributions to the recovery of the Dale Warland Singers' legacy.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|A Ceremony of Carols|
|Company at the Creche|
|Christmas Cantata (Sinfonia Sacra)|