CD+DVD Reviews

Mission Road – Chanticleer – Warner Classics CD + Bonus DVD

Chanticleer returns to its roots after 30 years

Published on December 15, 2008

Mission Road – Chanticleer – Warner Classics CD + Bonus DVD

Mission Road – Chanticleer – Warner Classics R2 512746, 51:46 + Bonus DVD: Mission Road—Our Journey Back, 34:00 ****:

Chanticleer returns to it point of origin with this album dedicated to the music of the Spanish-Mexican missions of California. The 21 missions of the Franciscans were founded between the years of 1769 and 1823 (Missions San Diego and San Francisco de Solano). These places served, as did so many others in a multitude of countries, as the cultural center for the communities where they were imbedded. The music that they sang has been largely unexplored, though in recent years the sacred works of Mexican composers in the great cathedrals of that country have been enjoying some needed illumination and burning into silver disc.

As you might expect, the music has a distinctive feel to it, often the most somber and noble chants accompanied by magnificent harmony and a guitar! Aside from plainchant, which was reduced to a minimum, there is figured chant (with a steady and meter, and employing harps, guitars, or bandolas), and even the end result of complex textures of four-part counterpoint. The mission fathers were well aware of the latest trends in classical liturgical music, would use classical orchestras when needed, and in general would adapt the music to any and all situations required, especially the many processions and parades. And of course we cannot overlook the unique “Californian” aspect of much of this music—the Spanish flavored music of the coast was still morphing into its own individual style, particularly when speaking of the songs and teaching melodies that were devised locally.

I can think of no better ensemble than Chanticleer to embark on this project. As they started in this music 30 years ago (can you believe it?) so now they return to their roots for a more personal and integral examination. There are too many styles and works to present here, so all we get is a relatively short CD of representative music, yet sung to perfection by this now fairly young-looking group. The accompanying DVD provides us with the sentiments of some of the singers about this music, and short performance excerpts as they traverse the varied missions sites, tuxedo-clad, but sounding very suave indeed. This is an interesting compilation, not for everyone surely, but still attractive to the most general of listeners.  

TrackList: O Que Suave!, Kyrie (Misa ensol), Gloria (Misa en sol), Alleluia & Veni Sancte Spiritus, Ya se Heriza, Credo (Misa en sol), Sanctus (Misa en sol), Para dar luz Inmortal Gozos para Sr. Sn. Jose, Agnus Dei (Misa en sol), De las Flores, Dulce Esposo de Maria

– Steven Ritter




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