Morten Lauridsen, Elora Festival Singers, Noel Edison - O Magnum Mysterium - O Nata Lux

Published Wednesday 18th November 2009
Morten Lauridsen, Elora Festival Singers, Noel Edison - O Magnum Mysterium - O Nata Lux
Morten Lauridsen, Elora Festival Singers, Noel Edison - O Magnum Mysterium - O Nata Lux

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Naxos American Classics 8559304

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

A confession: the first time I played this through it rather washed over me. However I took the trouble to read the booklet notes by Byron Adams and tried again, this time with the lyrics open in front of me. The fact that I am bothering to write this review may well tell you that it was worth a more careful and considered listen. Morten Lauridsen was born in 1943 and is considered to be one of America's leading composers of choral music. His compositional style is based on a detailed study of Renaissance composers such as Monteverdi and shows a full awareness of plainchant and polyphony to make an appropriate response to his carefully selected texts. In this collection we have sacred meditations in Latin with "O Nata Lux" from 'Lux Aeterna' and "O Magnum Mysterium" which is often sung at Christmas. Then we have six madrigals from Italian Renaissance poems and five "Mid-Winter Songs" in English with words by Robert Graves. We also have "Les Chansons des Roses" on French poems by Rainer Maria Rilke which are capable of being understood on different levels, not unlike the biblical Song Of Solomon. Overall, a very interesting selection. The Elora Festival Singers are from Canada and are regular singers on Naxos releases. Here, under their director Noel Edison, we get a near faultless performance. Much is sung a cappella although Leslie De'Ath gives appropriate accompaniment on piano where needed. Listeners with an interest in contemporary choral writing and singing will enjoy this release and those who prefer their choral music from an earlier period may also get much from it. And, as ever, if it is on Naxos it is excellent value for money.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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