WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Whitacre: Choral Music / Edison, Elora Festival Singers

Whitacre / Elora Festival Singers / Edison
Release Date: 06/15/2010 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559677   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Eric Whitacre
Performer:  Leslie De'Ath
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews


Eric Whitacre's choral works have been generously surveyed on disc, but only a handful of choirs have yet devoted an entire recording to his music. He couldn't have more luminous or illuminating interpreters than the Elora Festival Singers, a choir that I've heartily praised in the past and that deserves the same recognition here. Although there is much duplication, this program makes a fine companion to the 2005 recording by Polyphony (Hyperion) that I previously recommended.

Missing from the Hyperion disc but included among the 11 selections here is the rarely recorded "little tree", a sparkling, brightly sonorous setting with piano of e.e. cummings' sweetly childlike
Read more Christmas poem that contains a couple of musical quotes from what could be the song Gesu Bambino (or perhaps the Sussex carol?) and ends with spectacular multiple bursts of dazzling Whitacre-esque harmony. Also found here but not on the Hyperion recording (which incidentally features more selections altogether--14) are Little Birds, a setting of a poem by Octavio Paz--also with piano and containing some striking, non-sung vocal sounds!, and the wild and fascinating (also rarely recorded) Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine, an imaginative scenario with text by C.A. Silvestri.

The rest of the disc is filled with first-rate performances of Whitacre's most popular works, from A Boy and a Girl and Water Night to Lux aurumque and Sleep. Although not mentioned in the notes, the music for this last piece originally was written to the famous Robert Frost poem, Stopping by woods on a snowy evening, but had to be radically revised when the Frost Estate inexplicably refused to grant permission for a musical setting (in spite of numerous existing ones!). Whitacre and his poetic collaborator ingeniously solved the problem (although the Frost poem still fits neatly into the musical framework) and in the process created one of the composer's best-loved and most evocative works.

And speaking of liner notes, they focus almost exclusively on trying to explain Whitacre's compositional style, discussing in a somewhat technical fashion intervals and harmonic relationships, polychords, subdominants, mediant triads, etc. While some listeners will certainly appreciate this analytical detail, I believe most would have preferred to simply have the texts (which are not included!) and some information on the origin of the pieces and the relationships between the music and the poetry. Not having the texts at hand for a program of vocal or choral music is a significant drawback and detracts from full enjoyment of the listening experience.

Although I haven't changed my mind about the "too-long-for-its-material" handicap of the 13-minute When David Heard, the setting of e.e. cummings' "i thank you God for most this amazing day" is truly a masterpiece of choral writing and of musical embodiment of the tone and meaning of the poetry. And the Elora singers certainly "get it", as they do all the rest of the music on the program. The sound, from the choir's home venue in Elora, Ontario, exemplifies the consistently fine efforts of engineer Norbert Kraft and producer Bonnie Silver. Highly recommended.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Her Sacred Spirit Soars by Eric Whitacre
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; USA 
2.
A Boy and a Girl by Eric Whitacre
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; USA 
3.
Water Night by Eric Whitacre
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
4.
This Marriage by Eric Whitacre
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2004; USA 
5.
Lux aurumque by Eric Whitacre
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000; USA 
6.
Little Tree by Eric Whitacre
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
7.
When David Heard by Eric Whitacre
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; USA 
8.
Leonardo dreams of his flying machine by Eric Whitacre
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; USA 
9.
Songs of Faith (3): no 3, I thank You God for most this amazing day by Eric Whitacre
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; USA 
10.
Sleep by Eric Whitacre
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000; USA 
11.
Little Birds by Eric Whitacre
Performer:  Leslie De'Ath (Piano)
Conductor:  Noel Edison
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Elora Festival Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 

Sound Samples

Her Sacred Spirit Soars
A Boy and a Girl
Water Night
This Marriage
Lux aurumque (Light of Gold)
little tree
When David Heard
Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine
i thank you God for most this amazing day
Sleep
Little Birds

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Serious letdown May 7, 2013 By R. Greenfield (Silver Spring, MD) See All My Reviews "This recording is marred by a horrific performance of Whitacre's masterpiece "When David Heard." The score specifically says no breaths, no breaks unless marked. Edison, for some inexplicable reason, stops and starts throughout the most important of sustained sections. It ruins the mood of the piece. ALL performances are better than this one. Rest of the cd is fine, but all other compilations, especially Whitacre's own and the original Stahelli recording, are infinitely better than one ruined by a conductor with a mind of his own." Report Abuse
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN - TRY IT FREE!
Listen to all your favorite classical music for only $20/month.
Sign up for your monthly subscription service and get unlimited access to the most comprehensive digital catalog of classical music in the world - new releases. bestsellers, advanced releases and more.
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In