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Eric Whitacre follows the Grammy-winning success of his debut Decca album, Light and Gold (2743209), with Water Night, a brand new album that features no less than seven World Premiere Recordings. Light and Gold was awarded ‘Best Choral Performance’ in February 2012 at the 54th Grammy Awards for Whitacre’s first recording as both composer and conductor. This second disc for Decca juxtaposes music written as a young composer alongside brand new repertoire, both choral and orchestral, displaying the different influences and styles of Whitacre.
The Eric Whitacre Singers positively shimmer on these world premiere recordings of “Alleluia” and “Oculi Omnium”, two of the brand new works alongside one of the greats of his oeuvre, “Her Sacred Spirit Soars”. “Equus” is played by the full forces of the London Symphony Orchestra.
By way of contrast, “The River Cam” is a beautiful, pastoral piece that demonstrates Nevada-born Whitacre’s absorption of the works of Elgar and Vaughan Williams during his time in the UK as a visiting Fellow at Cambridge University. It was written at the invitation of the distinguished cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber, to mark his 60th birthday in 2011, who also gives the performance here.
An unexpected gem of the album is a setting of Goodnight Moon, the multi-million selling American children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown (Harper Collins). Written for soprano and strings, this tender piece is performed by Hila Plitmann, a Grammy-winning artist with great commitment to contemporary music.
The title track, “Water Night”, is one of Eric Whitacre’s most performed works, heard on this album performed by the strings of the London Symphony Orchestra.
Whitacre : Alleluia
Whitacre : Equus
Whitacre : Oculi Omnium
Whitacre : The River Cam
Whitacre : Her Sacred Spirit Soars
Whitacre : Water Night (For Strings)
Whitacre : Goodnight Moon
Whitacre : When David Heard
Whitacre : Sleep My Child
“In The River Cam...Vaughan Williams and Elgar are acknowledged points of reference, and the mellowly lyrical lines spun for solo cello are feelingly played here by Julian Lloyd Webber, for whose 60th birthday the piece was written...[When David heard] remains one of Whitacre's most intensely expressive pieces. It's raptly performed here, with the composer conducting, and is the high point of this particular programme.”
“At times on this second release for Decca, Whitacre 'does Whitacre' very well indeed. The positives are to be found in works which build upon the firm foundations laid down in his trademark choral style...[Oculi Omnium's] consonant-sounding clusters create wonderfully rippling effects. Such stacked harmonies are heard on earlier works on this disc, such as the ambitious 17-minute When David heard.”
11th June 2012
“At its best - and there's plenty on Water Night - his music builds beautiful cathedrals of sound...to hear the Eric Whitacre Singers recorded with such bloom and depth is a real treat.”
13th April 2012
“It's packed with premiere performances, including new choral works "Oculi Omnium" and "Alleluia", the latter a single-word showcase for the Eric Whitacre Singers, the later stages of which achieve a glistening, white-light clarity.”
27th April 2012
“Whitacre’s young singers can really sing, and Grace Davidson’s soprano solos are a joy. When David Heard, the longest piece, attains some thoughtful majesty...Taken in small doses, there is something endearing, and very American, about the music’s naivety and sunshine smile.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.