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Customer Reviews for: Early American Choral Music - Billings / Hillier

4 Reviews in Total
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4 Star: 1 Review
3 Star: 0 Reviews
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5.0 Stars (4 Reviews)

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 William Billings expressed superbly May 22, 2013
By Jeff F. (Surprise, AZ) -- See All My Reviews
This exciting recording portrays William Billings music at its finest. The crisp, clear tunes take me back to the days where I participated in leading "lessons" and singing tunes (shape note singing) from the Sacred Harp singing book - which included many of Billings' works. There is no thrilling experience like this till you have participated in singing these works in a Sacred Harp singing convention, or the next best thing: listening to these great selections from this late 18th century Boston composer on this CD. Report Abuse

 Stolid and authentic. May 19, 2013
By G K Barranger (Covington, LA) -- See All My Reviews
This collection of Billings arrangements has one foot in the "shout tradition" of American hymnody. It is, in other words short of musical nuance: very few dimenuendos and no color shadings. In all of these idiosyncracies it is probably true to "the way things used to be" when folks would get together and deliver the music at a fortissimo level, gathered at the river so to speak. While I do not mean to put this tradition down, it would be interesting to hear these same pieces rendered with a due attention to musical subtlety – say, as if they were being conducted by the late Robert Shaw with solos by the late (and much missed) Salli Terry. Still, one cannot fault this recording for its indomitable honesty. One piece missing from the collection is By The Waters of Babylon We Sat Down and Wept. Oral tradition tells us that this was "probably by Billings" although according to no less a person than Lee Hayes, it is still within the realm of tradition. If anyone can pin this down and give it a solid attribution, it would be nice to know. At the moment the best rendition of it is on a recording by Don McLean, leading an impromptu three part choral round made out of his audience. The recording tends to lack intimacy, but this is not a fault of the producer, but rather a result of the full out "shout quality" of the vocal production of the singers. The conducting is crisp and authentic, or what we take to be authentic, since neither we (nor the Edison recorder) were around at the time of Billings. For those interested in early hymnody the disk is a "must have" for the serious collector. Garic Kenneth Barranger Producer and performer on RESCUE, a collection of hymns that have fallen out of common usage. Report Abuse

 Unique and Astonishing April 21, 2013
By Deborah M. (Chambersburg, PA) -- See All My Reviews
I purchased this CD quite a few years ago, solely because I liked other recordings by Paul Hillier. What a pleasant surprise! I had never heard of William Billings as I tend to listen more to European Baroque instrumental music. This collection of Early American Choral music is simple--and simply beautiful. It relies solely on voices; there is no other accompaniment, but none is necessary. As one who is always moved by the minor key, I found a lot to like here, but there are also many uplifting pieces. I am not a particularly spiritual person, but the spirituality behind these works comes through clearly and strongly in this rendition. I will be looking for more Billings and Hillier. A real winner! Report Abuse

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