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Comfort And Joy Vol 1 / Cantus


Release Date: 02/24/2005 
Label:  Cantus Recordings   Catalog #: 5637240529   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  AnonymousFranz BieblJacob HandlHealey Willan,   ... 
Performer:  Brian ArreolaAlan DunbarAlbert Jordan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Rather than repeat myself, I'll leave it up to each reader to refer to my earlier reviews of this fine professional male-voice ensemble from Minnesota--all of which have been very positive from both a programming and artistic performance standpoint. This new release won't disappoint fans of the group, and it certainly will please any listener who loves Christmas choral music, even though many of the selections have been well represented on numerous other recordings. Although it may be tempting to compare Cantus to another well-known professional male ensemble, Chanticleer, Cantus does not attempt to replicate SATB-scored music with so-called male sopranos--nor does it even list altos among its members. As far as I'm concerned, that's a good Read more thing, but it also poses problems of texture and balance when they perform music originally written for mixed choirs.

Take the well-loved and much-performed O magnum mysterium by Morten Lauridsen, for example. In this arrangement for male voices--provided by the composer--the original key is set a whole step higher, and the upper voices sing an octave lower than the original soprano and alto parts. The resulting harmonies are the same (and this piece is all about harmony, after all), but the voicings are completely different. Yes, the piece maintains its elemental power and beauty, but the full flower of its luscious suspensions and dissonances is somewhat weakened because the textures are just too squished and dense, and the lines meant to be on top aren't necessarily there--and besides, we miss the presence of the female soprano and alto timbres. Yes, I'm being picky, but given the fact that alternative conceptualizations are certainly valid, the result must be musically justifiable in every respect.

Fortunately, only a few of the works here can be subjected to such scrutiny by super-critical observers; the rest are just plain wonderfully sung and sensitively interpreted by these world-class singers. Although Chanticleer may think it owns the Biebl Ave Maria, Cantus makes a strong claim here with its ideal blend and natural, flowing, vibrant rendition. I'm not a fan of the free-range, unprocessed vibrato that forms the group's prevailing sound, but it makes a distinctive and often warmly satisfying foundation for pieces such as Cornelius' Die Könige and Lawrence Wiliford's arrangement of the Welsh lullaby Suo Gân, as well as for the spiritual Mary had a baby and John Jacob Niles' setting of the Appalachian tune I wonder as I wander. The sound, recorded at the Sander Concert Hall at Goshen College in Indiana, is a bit too reverberant for my taste--10 voices just don't sound like this live--but it certainly gives full-bodied substance to the performances and, especially with the volume turned up a bit, really fills the room with the uniquely rich and colorful quality that only a male-voice choir can produce.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Puer natus est by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
2. Ave Maria by Franz Biebl
Performer:  Brian Arreola (Tenor), Alan Dunbar (Baritone), Albert Jordan (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; Germany 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 6 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
3. O magnum mysterium by Jacob Handl
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Austria 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 2 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
4. The Three Kings by Healey Willan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Canada 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 2 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Joseph Running.
Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
5. Sarum Mass for Christmas no 3: Puer natus est nobis by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: Medieval 
Written: England 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 3 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
6. Gabriel's message by Traditional
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Written: Basque Provinces 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 2 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: John Rutter.
Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
7. O little town of Bethlehem by Henry Walford Davies
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 2 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Kenneth Jennings.
Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
8. Hodie Christus natus est by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: Medieval 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 3 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
9. O magnum mysterium by Morten Lauridsen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; USA 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 5 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
10. Mary had a baby by Traditional
Performer:  Albert Jordan (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: William Levi Dawson.
Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
11. Suo Gan by Traditional
Performer:  Brian Arreola (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Written: Wales, UK 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 6 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Lawrence Wiliford.
Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
12. A la nanita nana by Traditional
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 2 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Language: Spanish 
Notes: Arranger: Norman Luboff.
Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
13. I wonder as I wander by John Jacob Niles
Performer:  Brian Arreola (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 2 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Lewis Henry Horton.
Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
14. What child is this? by Traditional
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 2 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Tim Takach.
Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
15. Lully, lulla, thow littel tyne child "Coventry Carol" by Traditional
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Robert Jennings Powell.
Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
16. Silent Night by Franz Xaver Gruber
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1818; Austria 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 3 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Brian Arreola.
Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 
17. Weihnachtslieder (6), Op. 8: no 3, Die Könige by Peter Cornelius
Performer:  Alan Dunbar (Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cantus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856/1870; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Gos 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranger: Erick Lichte.
Sauder Concert Hall, Goshen College, Goshen, IN (06/17/2004 - 06/21/2004) 

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