Harry Christophers / The Sixteen

Frank Martin: Mass for Double Choir; Songs of Ariel; Ode à La Musique; etc.

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Frank Martin's most important choral work is his a cappella Mass for Double Choir (1922-1926), though he also composed several short occasional choral pieces, which Harry Christophers and the Sixteen present with the Mass to round out this 2005 release. By arranging the program with less familiar works first, Christophers wants listeners to discover the variety of Martin's vocal writing, and to hear pieces that are seldom performed, let alone performed as well as this superb ensemble delivers them. One may not be terribly impressed, however, with the declamatory Cantate pour 1er Août for choir and organ, which portentously opens the program, or the two sets of Chansons and the Songs of Ariel, which are interesting as examples of Martin's madrigal style, clearly well-crafted but not extraordinary. The Sixteen is superb in its singing and lively in its interpretations, but this music is really best appreciated by Martin specialists. Listeners may well skip ahead to hear the sublime Mass in its entirety -- which is this album's raîson d'être -- then sample the secular pieces afterwards. The Sixteen gives the Mass a phenomenal performance, worthy of the group's reputation and as radiant as the ensemble's glorious 1994 album of John Tavener's choral music, which secured its fame. Coro's sound quality is a little subdued and variable, so some volume adjustments are needed.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
6:34
Choral Works (3) (Janeton, Si Charlotte avait voulu, Petite église) for male & female chorus
2
1:09
3
4:14
4
1:18
Ariel Songs (5), for chorus
5
1:31
6
3:43
7
0:55
8
4:14
9
1:17
Ode et sonnet, for 3 female voices & cello ad lib
10
2:09
Le coucou, canon for 7 female voices
11
1:37
Ode et sonnet, for 3 female voices & cello ad lib
12
Ode
1:10
13
2:20
14
8:47
Mass, for double chorus
15
4:37
16
5:50
17
5:32
18
3:11
19
1:17
20
5:48
blue highlight denotes track pick