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Requiem - We Are So Lightly Here / Conspirare


Release Date: 03/10/2009 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 807518   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Herbert HowellsEric WhitacreDonald GranthamBradley Ellingboe,   ... 
Performer:  Karl DentJanet CampbellDavid FarwigNina Revering,   ... 
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Although it is not at all evident from the outer packaging, this recording is (mostly) a reissue of a 2006 Clarion release that now seems to be out of print, and Harmonia Mundi wisely offers it anew, albeit with its program reduced from the original 2-CD length. Actually, all that's missing is one of the three Eric Whitacre e.e. cummings settings (Three Songs of Faith) and Bradley Ellingboe's not-terribly-interesting Be Music, Night. So we're left with a very generously-filled program framed by solid performances of Howells' marvelous Requiem and a first-recording of Craig Hella Johnson's arrangement of singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson's own specific, very short (4-plus minutes) "Requiem",
Read more a poignant, chant-like song written in response to the 2004 Asian tsunami.

In the middle comes Ildebrando Pizzetti's Messa di Requiem, a five-movement work written in 1922 that has deservedly received a couple of first-rate recordings (Hyperion/Westminster Cathedral; Chandos/Danish National Radio Choir), and this one adds another excellent reading to the list. Pizzetti's style, which displays a consistency and confident mastery of vocal writing, draws mostly from familiar, older forms of polyphony and traditional harmony, yet he doesn't hesitate to expand texture and color and harmonic borders to achieve an affecting expression of the texts.

And speaking of "affecting expression of texts", no one currently writing does this better than Eric Whitacre, and Conspirare really revels in his uniquely spicy, striking harmonies and potent use of choral registers and textures. Donald Grantham's We remember them, commissioned to honor victims of the 1966 shootings at the University of Texas, takes its text from the Hebrew Union Prayer Book; the music remains firmly in traditional territory relative to tonality and choral writing techniques, yet there is just enough variety and color in the harmonic writing to keep the sound fresh, and the piece flows so naturally on its melodic material that its four-and-a-half minutes seem much less. Stephen Paulus' The Road Home, a commission for the Dale Warland Singers, is one of his typically harmonically rich choral settings, this one of the early American hymn tune "Prospect", with a newly written text ("Tell me where is the road I can call my own...") by Michael Browne.

Of course, if you already own the original Clarion discs, you already own this one (and a little more); but if you missed that release, don't hesitate to consider this, especially for the Howells, Pizzetti, and Whitacre. The recording was made in the famed acoustics of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, NY--need I say more?

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
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Works on This Recording

1. Requiem by Herbert Howells
Performer:  Karl Dent (Tenor), Janet Campbell (Mezzo Soprano), David Farwig (Bass),
Nina Revering (Soprano)
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; England 
2. Songs of Faith (3): no 2, Hope, faith, life, love by Eric Whitacre
Performer:  Jennie Olson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; USA 
3. Songs of Faith (3): no 3, I thank You God for most this amazing day by Eric Whitacre
Performer:  Jennie Olson (Soprano)
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; USA 
4. We remember them by Donald Grantham
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
5. Messa di Requiem by Ildebrando Pizzetti
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922-1923; Italy 
6. The road home by Stephen Paulus
Performer:  Melissa Givens (Soprano)
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Period: 20th Century 
7. Requiem by Eliza Gilkyson
Performer:  Craig Hella Johnson (Piano)
Conductor:  Craig Hella Johnson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Conspirare
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2005 

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