Various Artists

Classical Meditation

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Naxos' 2010 compilation Classical Meditation is a double-disc of mostly modern works, slow in tempo and somber in mood, selected to create a calm background for contemplation and arranged in five sections with atmospheric headings. The first part of disc 1, "Pools of Sacred Calm," is devoted to choral music by composers Arvo Pärt, John Tavener, and Samuel Barber, who were all active in the last half of the 20th century. The last half of this CD changes period, going back to the Renaissance choral music of Thomas Tallis for a section called "Pure Stillness." The second disc presents inspirational instrumental and orchestral music, and its program is divided in three sections, "Soaring Spirit," "On the Wing," and "Soulscapes," featuring works by Frederick Delius, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Arthur Bliss, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Peter Sculthorpe, Alla Pavlova, and Edward Elgar. Considering how shallowly the suggested themes are explored, one might dispense with them altogether and make any other rationalization for the program they choose. It still takes nothing away from the value of the music or the quality of the performances, which are by some of the most impressive artists on Naxos, such as the St. John's College Choir, Cambridge; the Ormond College Choir; the Oxford Camerata; the Royal Scottish National Orchestra; the English Northern Philharmonia; and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, to name a few. While the organization of this album may seem arbitrary, it is at least successful in providing music that soothes the emotions and elevates the spirit, whether or not one goes along with the proposed moods.

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