Although he writes in all genres, René Clausen is today one of America’s most popular choral composers, and for more than twenty years he has been the conductor of the internationally acclaimed Concordia Choir of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. On this release, choral works by Clausen are performed by the Kansas City Chorale, another choir of great international renown, whose recording, with the Phoenix Chorale, of Grechaninov’s Passion Week scooped a Grammy® award in 2008, in the category Best Classical Recording, Engineering.
‘Set me as a Seal’ is arguably the composer’s best-known work, and has long been popular at weddings, funerals, and in the concert repertoire. Clausen has described the work as ‘various kinds of discussions between God and humans, both from the human aspect and from the God aspect, so a lot of variations… of love, of disappointment, of anxiety, of doubt’. The composer was moved to learn that the work was chosen for the memorial service held after ValuJet 592 crashed in the Everglades in 1996.
All that hath life and breath is one of Clausen’s earliest works, and a favourite of choirs across the world. The piece was one of only three choral works performed in the 2008 Presidential Office Year-End Concert of Compassion held by the Republic of China (Taiwan), with the theme ‘Music brings warmth – Songs spread feeling’.
The Mass for Double Choir was commissioned by the Kansas City Chorale. The composer, who had never written a mass before, looked on it as an ‘interesting challenge’. In the work emotions ebb and flow kaleidoscopically, taking the listener from the strength of the unison writing at the opening, to the sorrowful falling lines of the Crucifixion of Christ and the bubbling, dancing figures for the Resurrection. Expressions of praise spill forward atop one another in the Sanctus, a choir of angels too exuberant to be contained. In contrast, Prayer sets Mother Teresa’s gentle words with long arching phrases and gentle dissonances.
“bright, youthful, polished singing, giving Clausen's music fine advocacy...Certainly his choral works deserve wider international recognition and would be worthy additions to the choral repertoire.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2012
“The singing of the Kansas City Chorale is absolutely first class. They are a cultured ensemble and they produce an excellent sound...their control, unanimity and use of dynamics are all exemplary...I’ve been most impressed by my first encounter with the music of René Clausen. His music is beautifully crafted” MusicWeb International, July 2012