Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Alla Breve

December 13, 1987|JOHN HENKEN

"MAKE WE JOY." Christmas music by Holst and Walton. Simon Lawford, organ; Christ Church Cathedral Choir conducted by Stephen Darlington. Nimbus Records NI 5098 (compact disc). This disc will make much joy for aficionados of British choirs. Some of these 15 selections will be familiar, but many of them should be new to U.S. listeners. Darlington elicits smooth, balanced sound from his 29 singers, all male, of course. Sometimes it is much too warm a product, as in Holst's remarkably cozy setting of "In the Bleak Mid-Winter," though the choir colors the wide emotional range of "This Have I Done" effectively. The singing is characteristically light and pure, and nicely sustained by the Nimbus engineering and the Merton College Chapel acoustic.

" . . . TO CATCH A CHRISTMAS STAR." William Beck, organ; Cal State Long Beach Handbell Choir; Roger Wagner Chorale, conducted by Roger Wagner. Delos D/CD 3072 (compact disc). This recording of both old favorites and new works may be enough by itself to stimulate a new golden age of choral singing. Wagner's 20 singers deliver handsome, immaculately groomed sound in a variety of styles--23 numbers on the disc--and point texts with sure purpose. The massive, push-button climaxes, impressive though they be, do not amaze as much as the softly spun, effortlessly gentle efforts. Among those are John Rutter's "Nativity Carol," Salli Terri's setting of the "Coventry Carol" and Paul Manz's "E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come." Delos renders the sound superbly, though identification of the uncredited instrumentalists would have been nice.

"MERRY CHRISTMAS." Jose Carreras, tenor; members of the Vienna State Opera Choir conducted by Richard Osterreicher. CBS MK 42311 (compact disc). There is lots--well, actually only about 39 minutes--of glorious singing and lofty crooning on this disc. Indeed, the voice is the thing. Without doubting the sincerity of anyone involved, these heavy, pop-flavored arrangements sound stagy and self-conscious. Carreras lets his voice go wonderfully silken in the Catalan song "El Cant Tels Ocells," but most of his interpretations tend toward tenorissimo stentor or languid lounge-act syrup. The choir's contributions are largely inaudible.

"GLORIA! GLORIA!." Benita Valente, soprano; Philadelphia Singers; Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia conducted by Michael Korn. RCA 6559-2-RC (compact disc). This interesting, satisfying recording is an effective merging of a star turn and a traditional choral album. Valente's exquisitely sung solos--including lieder by Reger and Wolf and the Echo Aria from the "Christmas" Oratorio, in which she sings both parts--are never merely vocal displays. The program is no motley medley, either, being neatly balanced and contrasted in both texts and music. The new arrangements on the disc are intriguing and tasteful, the performances delightfully apt.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|