Santa Fe Desert Chorale takes us on a beautiful journey through America’s deep choral heritage with richly expressive, blended singing. Simple Shaker songs from the mid-19th century are performed in both their original, pure forms—introducing some terrific solo voices—and in sumptuous arrangements by Shawn Kirchner, whose warm-hearted “Angel Band” takes full advantage of the choir’s wide-ranging sonorities. Jake Runestead’s “Reflections,” commissioned by Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and Morten Lauridsen’s “Mid-Winter Songs” represent the best of contemporary American choral music while the final three works, including Stephen Paulus’ “The Road Home,” remind us of the folk-song roots of jazz, gospel, and bluegrass.
This CD contains the first recording of the complete Chorale Variations by Daniel Magnus Gronau, a master from 17th century Danzig, “the finest musical soul ever to have graced the city of Danzig” as his pupils said after his death. He wrote a treatise on transposition, and the Chorale Variations form one of the most extensive compendiums of organ registrations of late Baroque organ music in Germany. Organist Matteo Venturini is a winner of no less than 8 prestigious organ competitions, and wrote a thesis on the organ music of Gronau. He plays on a magnificent Ghilardi Organ in the Church of San Rocco, Larciano. Booklet includes liner note and artist biography in Italian and English. All organ specifications are also included.
Of the three Bang on a Can founder composers, David Lang’s music has always been the glassiest, the sparest, and for some listeners the most precious. In recent years, his aesthetic has become leaner still, paring down already simple material to gaunt extremes in something approaching neo-plainchant. The national anthems (note the lower case; nothing vainglorious here ) takes fragments of text from the anthems of all 193 United Nations member states and unfolds at speaking speed, with plenty of room for breaths between phrases and plenty of clarity to the words. It has the feel of sad and eerie intoning. The Los Angeles choir clinches the right sound for Lang – unflinching, spellbound – while the Calder Quartet gives sleek accompaniment. Also on the disc is a new choral version of Lang’s little match girl passion, the piece originally for four voices that won him the Pulitzer prize in 2008 and which, in the mouths of many, becomes a sort of collective prayer in the congregational tradition of Bach’s chorales.