High Flight

£12.00

A must-have for choral-aficionados everywhere that sees perhaps the world’s finest a cappella ensemble The King’s Singers join forces with The Concordia Choir – one of the USA’s best collegiate groups – to perform works by choral composers Eric Whitacre, Bob Chilcott and Morten Lauridsen.

One of the world’s most celebrated ensembles, The King’s Singers have a packed schedule of concerts, recordings, media and education work that spans the globe. Championing the work of young and established composers, they remain consummate entertainers; a class-act with a delightfully British wit. From Gesualdo and György Ligeti to Michael Bublé, The King’s Singers are instantly recognisable for their spot-on intonation, their impeccable vocal blend, the flawless articulation of the text and incisive timing.

 

The Concordia Choir of Moorhead, Minnesota is one of America’s finest a cappella choirs. Since 1920, the 72-voice choir has performed in nearly every major hall including Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center and has taken numerous international tours. The Choir is broadcast throughout the United States on public radio stations and on television via its Emmy-award winning Concordia Christmas Concert.

Includes the world premiere recordings of Alone by Eric Whitacre, and High Flightanyone lived in a pretty how town and Days by Bob Chilcott

 

 

 

 

SKU: SIGCD262

What people are saying

The King’s Singers
The Concordia Choir
René Clausen, conductor

Release date:3rd Oct 2011
Order code:SIGCD262
Barcode: 635212026229

  1. Oculi Omnium – Bob Chilcott (b.1955) – 2.23
  2. O Nata Lux – Morten Lauridsen (b.1943) – 4.12
  3. Lux Aurumque – Eric Whitacre (b.1970) – 3.42
  4. Even such is time i. anyone lived in a pretty how town – Bob Chilcott – 3.38
  5. ii. A flower given to my daughter – Bob Chilcott – 2.35
  6. iii. Days – Bob Chilcott – 1.56
  7. iv. Even such is time – Bob Chilcott – 2.53
  8. Cloudburst – Eric Whitacre – 7.48
  9. High Flight – Bob Chilcott – 5.48
  10. This Marriage – Eric Whitacre – 2.45
  11. O Magnum Mysterium – Morten Lauridsen – 6.33
  12. Alone – Eric Whitacre – 3.32
  13. The Stolen Child – Eric Whitacre – 8.50
  14. A Thanksgiving – Bob Chilcott – 3.32
July 2012
 
I must confess I have had this CD to review for quite some time and have found it difficult to make up my mind about it. John Quinn reviewed it earlier for this website and so I also refer you to his more detailed review. Certainly the performances are all one would expect of the King’s Singers, and the Concordia Choir provides a nice contrast. I would suggest, however, that you should not listen to the whole CD all the way through, as there is a certain sameness in the music. Everything is basically tonal, with all three composers using close harmony in their works. As one would expect, Bob Chilcott writes idiomatically for the King’s Singers, having been a longtime member of that group (1985-97). I find his compositions here generally the most attractive, from the simple, but beautiful Oculi Omnium – whose composition date is not listed anywhere as far as I could tell – to the more complex and rhythmically interesting Even such is time and High Flight, The latter was composed for the King’s Singers and SATB choir. The Concordia Choir, one of the best known of U.S. college choirs, has a wonderful blend of voices and their diction is also exemplary for a large choral group. They do full justice to Lauridsen’s most popular piece, O Magnum Mysterium, even if it really didn’t need another recording. 
Three of the works on this CD are world premiere recordings: Whitacre’s Alone, composed for the King’s Singers as a prelude to The Stolen Child, and Chilcott’s A Thanksgiving as well as High Flight. Eric Whitacre has quickly become one of America’s most popular choral composers and this disc gives a good sampling of his choral output. Lux Aurumque is undoubtedly his best known work and justifiably so in its deceptively simple chording and close harmony. However, The Stolen Child, written for the King’s Singers and the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, is a more complex work and leaves a deeper impression. The earliest of his works here, Cloudburst, on the other hand, sounds rather hokey with all its sound effects. The disc concludes with Chilcott’s A Thanksgiving and well demonstrates with its wonderful blend of voices the rapport the King’s Singers and Concordia Choir obviously had in making this recording. The music here is rather typical of what’s being composed these days for college and for the more accomplished church choirs. It is harmonically conservative, yet maintains enough interest for singers even if it is best taken in small doses by the listener. 
The CD contains a rather thick booklet, which along with the texts, has comments by each of the composers and photographs of the performers. I should point out one editorial error that could irritate Minnesotans: the production details list the recording location as in Moorhead, MS (which stands for Mississippi) rather than MN (Minnesota)! 
 

Musicweb-International.com, Leslie Wright

This album is a tribute to three composers making a big splash on the contemporary choral scene, as well as three works that were created for the 40th anniversary celebration of the King’s Singers in 2008 —Bob Chilcott’s High Flight and A Thanksgiving, plus Eric Whitacre’s A Stolen Child. All three are joined by the Concordia Choir of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, an ensemble that enjoys a quite sophisticated recording career in the United States. The choir also gets two solo outings, Whitacre’s Cloudburst, written when he was only 22, and Lauridsen’s wildly popular O Magnum Mysterium. They are a fine group that do credit to these oft-recorded pieces. 

The rest of the works here are taken by the King’s Singers solo, and represent a decent and vital cross- section of these composers. Lauridsen and Whitacre are well known, but Bob Chilcott is probably unknown to most choral aficionados. He needn’t be—his work stands head to toe with both of these others, and his melodic proclivities even surpass them. Chilcott is also a former long-standing member of the King’s Singers (he left in 1997) and is responsible for many of the arrangements they sing.

The venues for this recording were London and Minnesota, but Signum’s recording disguises any significant differences between the two, both vibrant and full. An easy recommendation.

Audiophile Audition.com, Steven Ritter

This disc features music by three composers whose choral music is currently amongst the most widely performed, certainly in the English-speaking world. It brings together that supremely versatile ensemble, The King’s Singers, and an American choir, The Concordia Choir. Based in Moorhead, Minnesota, the choir has been established since 1920 though I’m sorry to say I don’t think I’ve heard them before. On the evidence of their contributions to this disc that’s my loss because the choir is a highly proficient ensemble. It numbers 72 singers and they’ve clearly been prepared scrupulously by their conductor, Rene Clausen. He’s been in charge since 1986 and is only the third conductor in the choir’s history. The programme is built around three works – High Flight, This Stolen Child and A Thanksgiving – which were written for the 40th anniversary of The King’s Singers in 2008 and all of which are scored for the group plus SATB choir. Fittingly, quite a lot of the music on the disc is by Bob Chilcott, who was a tenor with The King’s Singers for twelve years until 1997 when he left to pursue a career as a full-time composer. Oculi Omnia, written while he was still with the group, I think, is a short setting of a verse from Psalm 145, which I don’t recall hearing before. It’s a lovely piece, beautifully written and, like everything else that The King’s Singers do on this disc, it’s fastidiously performed. However, I’d really like to hear it sung by a “conventional” choir. This performance sounds too studied, too immaculate.”Even such is time sets four poems by e.e.cummings, James Joyce, Philip Larkin and Sir Walter Raleigh – it’s the last of these poems that furnishes the work with its title. I don’t know about this work; maybe it’s because I find the texts by cummings and Joyce pretty impenetrable but this work didn’t really hit the spot for me in the way that Chilcott’s music usually does. One problem may lie with the use of the countertenors – or the way that these particular countertenors sing. Their staccato passages in the first movement, the cummings setting, sound a bit precious at times – the same material appears better integrated and more pleasing when it’s given to lower voices. The Joyce poem, which comes next, is more mellifluous; here the tenors carry a melodic line over a slow-moving chorale in the other parts. The Larkin poem is set in a lively, staccato scherzo and, to conclude, Raleigh’s famous poem, written as he awaited execution, is thoughtfully set. I was much more taken with High Flight in which, imaginatively, Chilcott brings together some words by the English metaphysical poet, Henry Vaughan (1621-1695) and lines written by a young wartime Spitfire pilot, John Gillespie Magee (1922-1941) whose words convey the thrill experienced by a young man when flying. At the start of the piece, as The King’s Singers slowly sing Vaughan’s words while the SATB choir provides a murmuring background, Chilcott achieves in his music an extraordinary stillness and sense of anticipation. The music for Magee’s words (from 3:40) is much faster and more urgent. There’s a real contrast between the enthusiasm of youth (Magee) and the reflective tone of a more mature adult (Vaughan) and Chilcott marries the two strands most effectively in a very effective piece. A Thanksgiving is a setting of a well-known prayer of St Richard of Chichester (1197-1253). It’s a very beautiful little piece. Though the music is quite sophisticated Chilcott manages to achieve an air of touching simplicity. I’ve heard Lauridsen’s lovely O Nata Lux in many performances, ranging from the large choral forces of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (review) to smaller ensembles such as Polyphony (review). The King’s Singers’ version is interesting in that the great clarity of six voices allows one to hear every strand with utter clarity but, as with Chilcott’s Oculi Omnia, I prefer to hear a slightly larger group in this music a choir the size of Polyphony is the optimum experience, I think. Without wishing to labour the point the same holds true for Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque though his This Marriage works well with six voices. The excellent Concordia Choir offers two numbers by itself. The first is Lauridsen’s ubiquitous O Magnum Mysterium. Though I love this rapt piece I do feel it’s in danger of being done to death. That said, the present very fine performance amply vindicates its inclusion here. It also points up, I think, in the greater richness and depth of tone, especially in the quieter passages, what is missing on the first three tracks of this CD. The Concordia Choir also does very well in Whitacre’s quirky Cloudburst. Whitacre unites both ensembles in The Stolen Child. Here Whitacre sets words by W.B.Yeats, a poem inspired by an Irish legend of faeries tempting a little child to run away with them and the child’s last-minute, futile recognition of what is happening to him. It’s a strange piece, as befits its mythical subject, in which Whitacre writes most imaginatively for voices and produces some intriguing choral textures. The juxtaposition of the small ensemble and the larger choir opens up some fascinating textural possibilities which the composer exploits very cleverly. Alone is a very recent piece, sung by The King’s Singers and written by Whitacre as a companion piece a prelude to The Stolen Child. It sets some rather dark and troubled words by Edgar Allan Poe and the music is suitably potent. This collection includes some very interesting vocal music. I have to admit to some reservations about The King’s Singers. I admire their flawless professionalism but I do wonder if it’s all just a little bit too perfect and rather calculating. Others may not share that view, of course, and it has to be said that the singing of both ensembles is consistently excellent. The recordings were made by three sets of engineers, working at various times in two different locations. However, the results are uniformly good.

MusicWeb International, April 2012, John Quinn