The Tudor Choir is a Seattle-based chamber chorus of 12 voices, whose recording on Loft of Shaker music, in arrangements by Kevin Siegfried, Craig ZeichnerRead more “implored” us to buy (25:1). This recording is intended as a complement to that earlier one, and offers slightly more varied fare, all of it from the same musical and emotional neighborhood, however. The choir uses little vibrato and its fairly bright sound lets the sopranos stick out at the cost of the altos, though this is in part because there are only two altos but four sopranos. The choir sings cleanly and articulates clearly, and that is always a plus, even if one wishes there were a bit more heft now and then.
The core of this program is Shaker music, though only one Shaker piece is done in the unison we take to be the Shaker style, and that is the title piece (which, however, uses a variant of the melody we best know in Aaron Copland’s use of it in Appalachian Spring). These words, and three different arrangements of it, by Kevin Siegfried, Copland (as further arranged by Irving Fine), and Bob Chilcott (for the King’s Singers), recur throughout the program. These are certainly more polished versions of Shaker tunes than those exhibited on Joel Cohen’s more scholarly recording with the same title (on Erato), done in the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community.
The major piece on the program is At the water’s edge, a setting by Kevin Siegfried of four poems by Sarah Orne Jewett. Commissioned in 2005 by the community chorus of South Berwick, Maine, where Jewett lived, these are gentle, largely consonant, nature settings, though the third, in five parts, ventures some discreet dissonance. They are similar in style with the rest of the program.
This matter of stylistic coherence is one of the striking features of this recording. Most of the arrangements are by Siegfried, and those by others share similar traits. That is, they tend to adopt the scale-structure of the melody being arranged. This was a technique demonstrated to great effect by Robert Shaw and Alice Parker in their arrangements of spirituals, which, like a number of the tunes here, have “gapped scales,” that is, scales that are incomplete somewhere within them.
This is a fine recording and I think Siegfried’s unfussy Jewett settings are certainly worth getting to know. They are a solid, mainstream, contribution to the modern American choral repertoire.
beautifully nostalgicNovember 12, 2013By rosande c. (miami, FL)See All My Reviews"crystal clear voices, a piercing purity, perfect instrumentals and rather calming and soothing. thank you for providing sound samples, this has made all the difference and hastened purchase."Report Abuse