Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Golden Disc

From October 3, 2015:


This is the first disc from a fine new choir, Cappella SF, led by Ragnar Bohlin, Director of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. The program chosen is, I think, the best kind for a Christmas CD: a mixture of old favourites and unfamiliar pieces or arrangements. As well, there’s a variety of musical textures, a mix of soloists and featured parts, and the important contribution of harp and organ on some of the tracks. Most importantly, the singing is of a very high standard. The title track, Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque, calls for “absolute vocal clarity and pinpoint accuracy of intonation,” as Lindsay Koob writes in her excellent liner notes. Bohlin and his singers deliver just that. Though I’ve always preferred the pure sound of an alto in the Britten carols, soprano soloist Alexandra Sessler is very impressive in Balulalow. Of the less familiar carols on the disc, I especially enjoyed Fredrik Sixten’s simple but profound The Song of the Star, and the very beautiful Jul, Jul, Stralande Jul, by Gustaf Nordqvist. The disc ends with Barlow Bradford’s great arrangement of my favourite, and what I think is the best, of all the secular Christmas songs, Hugh Martin’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

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