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Hope, Faith, Life, Love…
Choral Music by Eric Whitacre
Junges Vokalensemble Hannover, Klaus-Jürgen Etzold
Eric Whitacre has a sure instinct when it comes to writing music beyond any kind of avant-gardism in the 21st century: he is representative of a generation of composers who consider tonality and music’s accessibility a crucial feature of their works. The Junges Vokalensemble Hannover translates this instinct into sound, and unfolds the compositions’ colourfulness with an exceptional level of artistic mastery.
The works are written with the clear ideals of performability and feasibility in the composer’s mind, making Whitacre’s music particularly interesting to ambitioned non-professional choirs such as the Junges Vokalensemble Hannover. Probably the best-known of Whitacre’s works recorded on this disc is his Lux Aurumque. This work was composed in 2001 and sets to music the poem Light and Gold by the American poet Edward Esch, a meditation on the birth of Christ and the light. Hope, Faith, Life, Love..., Cloudburst, and Five Hebrew Love Songs are also recorded on the present disc.
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The Ancient Question: a voyage through Jewish Songs
Hila Plitmann (soprano), Julian Bliss (clarinet), Christopher Glynn (piano), Thomas Bowes (violin) & Andres Kaljuste (viola)
The grammy-award winning artist Hila Plitmann is known worldwide for her astonishing musicianship, light and beautiful voice, and the ability to perform challenging new works.
On this disc she brings together a very personal programme that draws on her familial roots in Jewish culture and song; from traditional folk music (Five Yiddish Songs), to contemporary compositions (Bridges of Love, Tehilim and I Never Saw Another Butterfly). The disc also features the 'Five Hebrew Love Songs', with poetry by Plitmann set to music by the composer Eric Whitacre (her husband).
“Plitmann's selection is carefully chosen for maximum variety of expression and instrumentation. All the featured composers write in a highly accessible style retaining a strong adherence to tonality and eschewing idiosyncratic vocal and instrumental effects.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 ****
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Eric Whitacre: Light & Gold
Eric Whitacre (b. 1970), accomplished composer, conductor and lecturer, is one of the most popular and performed composers of his generation. His published works – of which “Sleep,” “Cloudburst,” “Lux Aurumque” and “Water Night” are among the most popular in the modern repertoire – have sold over a million copies worldwide. Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings, Eric’s cutting-edge musical, has won the ASCAP Harold Arlen award, the prestigious Richard Rodgers Award and 10 Ovation Award nominations. In the US he is greeted with “rock star adulation” (New York Times) and his Virtual Choir projects have given him a worldwide following on YouTube, marking a new digital age for classical music (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs). In 2010 he signed to Decca, and is published by Chester Music.
Light and Gold is a mixture of works from the Whitacre catalogue alongside three World Premiere recordings of new pieces, all of them freshly recorded for the occasion. It's the perfect gateway through which new listeners can experience the allure of Whitacre's music for the first time, while giving existing fans pristine new recordings of some of his most successful pieces, tailored by the composer himself. "This album is the first time that I've ever conducted on record my interpretations of my own pieces," Whitacre explains. "The new pieces haven't been recorded before. Previous recordings of the older works have always been nice, but they've never been exactly what I was hoping they would be. That's the most interesting part for me; it's finally a chance to say it the way I'd like to say it." The pieces on the disc are performed by the British chamber choir, Laudibus, alongside Whitacre’s newly-created vocal group, the Eric Whitacre Singers.
“an engaging and populist, if not overly challenging, programme that presents Whitacre as perhaps the American equivalent of Karl Jenkins.” The Independent, 15th October 2010 ***
“Soupily addictive and beautifully sung.” The Observer, 17th October 2010
“Their collective intonation is stunning, and they sing with conviction and enjoyment...[there are] many typical Whitacrian hallmarks: a sonorous haze of piled-up cluster-chords, with deep basses and floating upper parts, punctuated by startlingly "scrunchy" multi- (and oft-unresolved) suspensions of rapturous beauty...this gorgeous disc deserves the widest exposure. Simply glorious!” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010
“'The Stolen Child'...is the most immediately impressive. Here Whitacre deftly weaves the entreating faerie voices of Yeats's poem with that of the 'human child'...The burgeoning crescendo which opens 'i thank You God' is one among many...examples of the EW Singers' technical and expressive excellence.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2010 *****
“it's all spot on: tuning, vocal blend, articulation of text, or shaping and colouring of phrases. Whitacre's texts have a youthful appeal, from Leonardo da Vinci dreaming, to a young couple kissing in the sun. The singers' vibrant performances complement this, not just in their silvery vocal timbre, but in the sense that they truly believe in what they're singing.” Classic FM Magazine, January 2011 *****
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