Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"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.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mission check

Matthew Guard's excellent chamber choir Skylark has a three-fold mission:
  • Create innovative and meaningful programs of stunning vocal beauty
  • Educate and inspire the next generation of choral artists
  • Support the careers of the most talented vocal artists in America
This special new disc from Sono Luminus shows us the group is well on their way to fulfilling the first of these. The singing is indeed stunningly beautiful, and while I haven't had a chance to hear the 9.1 high definition surround sound Blu ray disc, the stereo recording presents the singers in an acoustical environment that matches the ethereal music.

The disc's program is of real interest and provokes some thought. Whether there's more behind the concept of the transition from life to death depends on your religious beliefs, but there's no denying the beauty of the music Guard has chosen. Daniel Elder's Elegy is a moving choral meditation on the bugle call Taps. I suspect this work by the promising young American composer will be a signature piece for Skylark for a long time to come. Another standout is Robert Vuichard's Heliocentric Meditation, based on John Donne's Meditation XVII. Vuichard, who made a big impression with The Camera Obscura of Jan van Eyck, has another winner in the Donne piece. Two composers to watch!

Other music of special interest comes from Iceland, with pieces by Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Jón Leifs, and from John Taverner, whose classic Butterfly Dreams cycle fits perfectly with the theme. Skylark will be touring with this program, and I'm sure will be inspiring new choral singers, conductors, arrangers and composers. In the meantime, be prepared to be inspired yourself.

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