Eric Whitacre / Eric Whitacre Singers

Eric Whitacre: Light & Gold

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Light & Gold is the debut album on Decca for Eric Whitacre and the Eric Whitacre Singers, a group formed in 2010. They are joined by Laudibus, a choir selected from members of National Youth Choir of Great Britain, and also, on one track, by the King's Singers. The program is made up of Whitacre's choral music, some of it recorded here for the first time. Although most of the program has been previously recorded, this is an album that no fan of the composer's will want to be without, not only for the very attractive new works, but because of the extraordinary quality of all the performances. In the program notes, the composer writes of the dizzying euphoria he experienced recording these remarkable choirs, and the receptive listener may well have a similar reaction to the performances. The album is a model of disciplined, immaculate, and passionate choral singing. The groups' tone quality and intonation are simply dazzling; Whitacre's musical language, while always radiantly lyrical, encompasses the sweetest consonances and the most piercing dissonances, and the singers' ability to stay cleanly on pitch is phenomenal. The expressive depth of the performances is also remarkable, from the wrenching intensity of The Stolen Child to the tender serenity of The Seal Lullaby and the vertiginous wildness of Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine. Leonardo, probably the composer's most inventive and audacious choral work, has been recorded a number of times, but the suppleness and abandon of this version are breathtaking. A caveat for Whitacre newcomers: except for some moments of rhythmic energy in the Five Hebrew Love Songs and Leonardo, almost all the music on the album is characteristically slow, whether slowly melancholy or slowly ecstatic. Decca's sound is excellent -- clear with good definition -- but at the same time it's warmly atmospheric.

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