Classical CD Reviews

The Valley Sings: Choral Music by Composers of the Hudson Valley – Kairos—A Consort of Singers/ Edward Lundergan – MSR Classics

Sometimes big things come from unexpected places. The Hudson Valley is obviously one of those.

Published on June 12, 2013

The Valley Sings: Choral Music by Composers of the Hudson Valley – Kairos—A Consort of Singers/ Edward Lundergan – MSR Classics MS 1427, 63:16 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

Kairos—an ancient Greek word meaning the “supreme moment” when something special happens, and also a modern Roman Catholic retreat movement, is an ensemble resident in the Hudson Valley at the Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York, dedicated to the performance of music created by composers from the same area. As such it is a fairly localized organization, one that you night think would be overly provincial in its performances and outlook.

And you would be wrong.

Normally I would expect an honest, solid, and competent ensemble from such an area, of interest to little except those who live in the area and follow the group. I would also expect some obvious flaws in the performances because of the amateur nature of the chorus.

And I would be wrong. These folks sing, and sing very well. The music is replete with difficulties that include many leaps and jumps into higher regions that sopranos especially fear to tread, and they nail the notes every time. Having lived in Atlanta for many years, I have become used to the choral work that Robert Shaw achieved here with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and its spin-off groups like the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers. Shaw’s choruses were always perfectly balanced—no section stood out that shouldn’t have. The ensemble was close-knit, perfectly in tune, and in possession of a dynamic range that startled those who heard them live. Many of these characteristics are part and parcel of Kairos as well, and they are anything if not accomplished. Bold tone, great dynamic range, and solid intonation fit their bill very well.The music is also very well chosen. I can’t remember the last time a program was so enjoyable. Not radical, not shocking, but elegant and melodic, emotional and colorful. Conductor Lundergan’s short When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer and The Dark Hills are wonderfully evocative, as is Arise My Love by composer Panaiotis. Craig Fryer’s Kyrie is a superb work with an echoing effect that makes me want to hear the entire Missa Brevis.  And Peter Schickele’s cantata After Spring Sunset shows a side of this prolific composer that fans of PDQ Bach rarely get to hear.MSR’s sound, recorded at Holy Cross Monastery, is close with good reverberation around the chorus. This is a fine disc well worth your attention.

TrackList:

GEORGE TSONTAKIS: I Dreamt I Saw A Little Owl; Dead In The Cold, A Song-singing Thrush; Love Me, — I Love You
AARON COPLAND: Thou, O Jehovah, Abideth Forever
PANAIOTIS: Arise, My Love
JAMES FITZWILLIAM: A Rose Of Sharon
CRAIG FRYER: Kyrie (from Missa Brevis)PETER W. SIPPLE: Pied Beauty; Thou Aet Indeed Just, Lord; God’s Grandeu
JOHN B HEDGES: Shield; Bread dough; Water; Bagpipe; Iceberg
JONATHAN RUSSELL: Rain Has Fallen; O Cool Is The Valley Now
SHIRLEY HOFFMAN WARREN: Purpose Of A Cat
EDWARD LUNDERGAN: A Noiseless, Patient Spider
CRAIG FRYER: The Time Draws Near; Coventry Carol
EDWARD LUNDERGAN: When I Heard The Learn’d
ASTRONOMER; The Dark Hills
PETER SCHICKELE: After Spring Sunset

—Steven Ritter




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