ANNIVERSARIES & MESSAGES • Simon Carrington, cond; Yale Schola Cantorum • DELOS 3436 (51:53) Live: New Haven 12/9/2011
VICTORIA Missa Alma Redemptoris Mater. THEOFANIDIS Messages to Myself. BACH Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf. LISZT Ave Maria. LANGRead more_again (after Ecclesiastes)
The Yale Schola Cantorum is not your average college choir, but a professional-level ensemble that has toured extensively and recorded several CDs on major labels. It’s a 24-voice chamber choir, and its student members come from the entire student body, not just from the Department of Music. Nevertheless, almost half of the singers on this recording are enrolled in the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.
The only reservation I have about this program is the way in which the multi-movement works by Tomás Luis de Victoria and Christopher Theofanidis have been split up. The disc begins with the Kyrie and Gloria from Victoria’s Missa, and then moves on to the first two movements from Messages to Myself. After the Bach motet, we get the Missa’s Credo, followed by the last two movements from Messages to Myself. Then, after the relatively short selections by Liszt and David Lang, the program ends with the Missa’s Sanctus and Benedictus, and its Agnus Dei. The booklet note provides no explanation for this. I can only assume that it is a capitulation to our attention deficit-ridden culture, in which many individuals cannot attend to any one thing for more than a few minutes at a time.
What was I saying? Oh yes . . . the strengths of this program are its variety, and the freshness of the ensemble’s singing, which is nevertheless wedded to a very mature discipline and sensitivity. The stylistic gear shifts are smoothly handled. Having said that, I must add that the finest moments on this disc, at least for me, come in the Bach motet, which bubbles over with the singers’ apparent delight in Bach’s inventiveness. This selection is performed by an eight-person subset of the Yale Schola Cantorum, the Yale Voxtet. I note that the Schola Cantorum also has recorded Bach’s St. John Passion, for the Rezound label. The motet performance presented here is so impressive I might just go ahead and investigate it. (Laura Rónai and Jerry Dubins did not like it much, however, in their respective Fanfare reviews.) Yes, there are professional ensembles that sing with even better intonation, and with breath-stopping precision, but these young musicians deserve recognition and support, and this program should bring enjoyment and even inspiration to a wide range of listeners, not just to Yaleys and their families.
Old school singingJuly 1, 2013By Jim D. See All My Reviews"One of this country's oldest universities, Yale has a tradition of a cappella singing. The Yale Schola Cantorum, founded by former Kings Singer Simon Carrington in 2003, has already been involved in several recordings, but this seems to be its first unaccompanied disc. The chamber chorus specializes in early music and "music of the last hundred years," and this program (recorded live) features them in both. A Mass setting by Victoria is spread across the disc, as are four "Messages" by Christopher Theofanidis. These set the most unlikely texts, with varying results--that's not to take anything away from the performances, and others may enjoy them more. There's a Bach motet, performed one voice to a part, which is the fashion, and which is well-suited to the core 'Voxtet' group of eight graduate students. So clear is the recording that the listener can almost visualize the individual singers. Pieces by Franz Liszt and David Lang are also offered. Total time is under an hour, but it's hard to complain when the singers acquit themselves so handsomely in such a variety of things."Report Abuse