Stillness: Music of Calm in a Changing World

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Interest in slow, meditative music came to the attention of record companies in the mid-'90s, in light of the international success of Nonesuch's 1992 release of Henryk Górecki's Symphony No. 3, and EMI's 1994 best-seller Chant. As a result of the popularity of those albums, which appealed as much for their religious associations as for their musical conservatism, most major labels resorted to issuing collections of similarly themed pieces, and Górecki, John Tavener, Arvo Pärt, and James MacMillan, among others, became household names for fans of reverent sacred music. Of course, they are represented on Stillness, a 2010 double-disc compilation from ABC Classics that demonstrates the continued interest in this style of music, though the program is more diverse than it might seem at first blush. Considering that the composers who found success with this trend also moved on and discovered new ways to express themselves, their music became quite varied and more interesting than the unflattering commercial term "chill-out" suggests, or than the promoters of "trance" music could imagine. Fortunately, a wide range of music fits the category, encompassing instrumental and orchestral music as well as choral, and it is amply sampled on this album. Listeners who want soothing pieces for relaxation or religious works for spiritual edification can find what they need here.

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