The C minor Passacaglia and Fugue is one of the great masterpieces for the instrument and one which inspired countless responses from composers great and lesser. So it's all the more astonishing to think that Bach wrote it while still a twenty‐something hireling in Weimar, where his Kapell meistership to the Duke ended badly with the composer being clapped in irons for touting his availability for other jobs, frustrated as his ambition was by the restrictions of the position.
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.
Sergey Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil, also known as the Vespers, is among his most admired works, and it was one of the composer's own favorites, along with The Bells. This 2015 Chandos release by Charles Bruffy and the combined voices of the Phoenix Chorale and the Kansas City Chorale presents the music in the super audio format, so the richness of the divisi choral parts and the depth of the basso profundo come across fully in the multichannel reproduction. Bruffy is the musical director of both groups, so his special rapport with them creates an even ensemble blend that balances the largely homophonic textures, and brings a consistency of approach to the three styles of chant Rachmaninov imitated, Kievan, Greek, and Znamenny. The beauty of the a cappella voices and the surprisingly lush harmonies make this setting immediately appealing and ultimately moving, and listeners who enjoy sacred choral music for inspiration or meditation will find the All-Night Vigil's smooth flow and expressive warmth well-suited to those purposes.
The Grammy-Award-winning conductor Charles Bruffy brings together his two professional choirs, the Kansas City Chorale and Phoenix Chorale, for this recording of Serge Rachmaninoff’s All-night Vigil. The scheduled release date marks the 100th anniversary of the world premiere of the work, which was given by the Moscow Synodal Choir on 10 March 1915.
Thoroughly trained by his father Johann Sebastian, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach became renowned as a virtuoso harpsichordist and organist. His surviving organ music includes the seven choral preludes and ten fugues on this disc, which range from relatively simple settings to elaborate displays of counterpoint. Born in Rio de Janeiro and based in the USA, Julia Brown, who has made several acclaimed recordings of keyboard music by Buxtehude and Scheidemann for Naxos, has been praised as ‘a first-class artist and superb technician … an exceptionally sensitive stylist’.