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Dett: Listen To The Lambs, Etc / Blyden-taylor, Dett Chorale


Release Date: 06/24/2003 
Label:  Marquis   Catalog #: 81293   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  R. Nathaniel Dett
Conductor:  Brainerd Blyden-Taylor
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nathaniel Dett Chorale
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

When listening to a new recording it's always a good thing to be able to connect the word "joy" with the word "discovery". That's certainly the case with this new offering from Marquis Classics, a remarkable collection of choral works by Afro-Canadian composer R. Nathaniel Dett, whose grandmother made her way in the 1850s to Drummondville (now Niagara Falls), Ontario--a noted stop on the Underground Railroad. I admit that I hadn't heard any of this music before, and indeed it was a pervasive lack of attention to "Afrocentric choral music" that prompted the Nathaniel Dett Chorale's founder/conductor to organize this professional chamber group in Toronto in 1998. Its focus is on all kinds of music, from classical Read more to gospel to jazz, but here the aim is to shine a light on some really fine work by a vaguely known but eminently deserving composer whose piano music was favored by Percy Grainger, who held teaching positions and degrees from several notable American colleges, who was among Nadia Boulanger's eminent legion of students, and who "performed for two American presidents, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt".


The program features motets, anthems, and more extended works, many of which are based on spirituals, hymns, or folksongs, that require the performing skills of a highly refined and technically assured choir--skills that are unquestionably in evidence throughout these 13 pieces, which run the gamut from four to six to eight parts, some with solos, and one--an extended rumination on the tune "Swing low, sweet chariot"--that includes organ accompaniment. The music is exceptionally well scored to give melodic prominence where it's due, and to take full advantage of the expressive possibilities of vocal ranges and timbres; and this Canadian ensemble--mostly non-black singers, by the way--really projects the richly colored essence of this music's proud tradition and popular style. There's lots of vibrato as well as careful attention to the subtleties of dynamic variation, and each selection stands out for its individuality and for its value as a legitimate concert work.


"Baptism", "Listen to the lambs", "Weeping Mary", "I'll never turn back no more", "Hew 'round the tree", and "Ave Maria" are highlights. The Ave Maria has all the qualifications to become part of the standard repertoire--if only it existed in a readily available performing edition! The sound is a bit on the resonant side, and one or two of the soloists exhibit some qualities that betray the choir's overall professional character. But this is really fine music and music making that demands the consideration of all serious choral enthusiasts.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
I'll Never Turn Back no More by R. Nathaniel Dett
Conductor:  Brainerd Blyden-Taylor
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nathaniel Dett Chorale
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916; USA 
2.
Let us Cheer the Weary Traveler by R. Nathaniel Dett
Conductor:  Brainerd Blyden-Taylor
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nathaniel Dett Chorale
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; USA 
3.
Listen to the lambs by R. Nathaniel Dett
Conductor:  Brainerd Blyden-Taylor
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nathaniel Dett Chorale
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; USA 
4.
The Chariot Jubilee by R. Nathaniel Dett
Conductor:  Brainerd Blyden-Taylor
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nathaniel Dett Chorale
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; USA 
5.
Don't be weary, traveler by R. Nathaniel Dett
Conductor:  Brainerd Blyden-Taylor
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nathaniel Dett Chorale
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 

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