High Flight: Choral Music by Whitacre, Lauridsen, Chilcott

King's Singers / Rene Clausen / Concordia Choir

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High Flight: Choral Music by Whitacre, Lauridsen, Chilcott Review

by Stephen Eddins

The three composers, two American and one British, whose works are represented on this album, are at the forefront of early 21st century choral composition and their works fit together beautifully. They use similar lushly rich harmonic languages that are not afraid of dissonance, but their styles are distinct. Morten Lauridsen in particular has a signature sound, a use of unresolved dissonances that nevertheless creates a sense of resolution. Eric Whitacre and Bob Chilcott are more likely to use extended vocal techniques, and in Whitacre's case, body sounds, to broaden their timbral palettes, and both are expert at creating evocative minimalist ostinatos. The King's Singers have the kind of pure and focused tone to do full justice to the warmth and eloquence of the music. The Concordia Choir, led by René Clausen, performs on several of the tracks in works that require a large, massed choral sound. The group's discipline and sensual sound are evident in the performances of Whitacre's Cloudburst and Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium. The ensembles join together in Bob Chilcott's ecstatic High Flight, his gentle benediction, A Thanksgiving (both world-premiere recordings), and in Whitacre's The Stolen Child, a haunting setting of a disturbing poem by Yeats. This is an especially appealing selection of repertoire that should be of interest to fans of contemporary choral music. Signum's sound is warmly present and nicely resonant.

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