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.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Music of solace and contemplation

Every release from Noel Edison's Elora Singers is to be treasured; they're Canada's most accomplished choir. Their new Patrick Hawes disc shows the 22 voice group in fine form, obviously lifted up by the very fine music of British composer Patrick Hawes. Nearly all of the music on this well-filled disc is brand new: the major works Revelation and Beatitudes, and five smaller but no less impressive pieces. All of these are world recording premieres. There's a bonus piece as well, one which I expect will end up on virtually every Hawes choral disc in the future: the sublime Quanta Qualia from 2004, which has become Hawes' calling card, like Barber's Adagio or Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5. Edison has chosen the arrangement Hawes made for Voces8 for their 2013 album Eventide, for choir and alto saxophone.  This is music with varied and distinguished precursors, from the Tudor composers to Vaughan Williams, Geoffrey Burgon and Ennio Morricone. This ecstatic, soaring music is a fitting climax to a satisfying program of serious music which provides solace and enhances contemplation. It's well-timed to provide relief from the lunacy and danger the past few months have brought to the world.

Besides the repertoire and the singing, there's another major plus here: the husband and wife production team of Norbert Kraft (who also engineers) and Bonnie Silver (who also edits) deliver a living, breathing choir without apparent artifice. And what a choir!

Here is Patrick Hawes travelling to the island of Patmos, the place where St. John wrote his Book of Revelation, the inspiration behind Hawes' own Revelation.

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