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Lux Aurumque - Dale Warland Singers


 
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Program and Notes Reviews
 
Lux Aurumque
The Dale Warland Singers
Dale Warland, director

The Grammy-nominated Dale Warland Singers release their highly anticipated final recording, Lux Aurumque. This program of popular 19th- and 20th-century sacred music amply demonstrates the high choral standards Warland reached with his now disbanded group. The trademark Warland sound is captured brilliantly by the Grammy award-winning team of Steve Barnett and Preston Smith.

"10 Best Classical CDs of 2007" : National Public Radio / American Public Media
(npr.org/music)

“…simply put, [Lux Aurumque] represents where the bar is set for choirs today. The repertoire is 19th- and 20th-century sacred motets, sung with a deep spirituality. Warm-hearted, touching stuff.

Mixed-voice choral work does not get any better than this!”

This is a 20th-century program and constituted of challenging music. It is also ravishing music in the hands of an ensemble as subtle as this one...The dynamic range of this ensemble was enormous and it is well captured by Gothic...the Dale Warland Singers stopped at the peak of their form. What a way to go!

For a complete list of full-text reviews, click on the REVIEWS tab (above).

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Program Notes

The Dale Warland Singers’ final concert on May 30, 2004, concluded 31 years of concerts, tours, radio broadcasts, and critically acclaimed recordings. The Dale Warland Singers were recognized as one of the world’s foremost a cappella choral ensembles. The 40-voice professional choir was based in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Dale Warland, celebrated American musician, has made an indelible impressionon the landscape of contemporary choral music both nationally and internationally. During his time with the Dale Warland Singers, he shaped a vocal ensemble known for its exquisite sound, technical finesse, and stylistic range. From that platform,Warland not only mastered the traditional repertoire, but also commissioned 270 new choral works. The music world has responded by bestowing its highest honors on Warland, including, most recently, the 2006 Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia’s Individual Leadership in Choral Music Award. Others include the Champion of New Music Award from the American Composers Forum,  (2005), Honorary Doctorates from Macalester College and the University of Minnesota (2004), a Distinguished Master Artist Award from the University of South Florida (2004), a Grammy nomination of Walden Pond for best choral performance (2003), the prestigious ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) Victor Herbert Award (2003) in recognition of Warland’s artistic contributions, the Sally Irvine Ordway Award for Vision (2003), and a special award from Chorus America and ASCAP for Warland’s "pioneering vision, leadership and commitment to commissioning and performing new choral works at the highest level of artistry" (2002). He also received the 1995 Michael Korn Founder’s Award, the highest honor for a choral conductor in the United States, previously awarded to Robert Shaw, Margaret Hillis, and Roger Wagner, among others. Warland’s appearances as guest conductor have taken him to the podiums of many of the world’s leading choirs and vocal ensembles. He has also rehearsed and prepared choirs for performances of major works in collaboration with notable conductors and composers including Robert Shaw, Edo de Waart, Leonard Slatkin, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Sir Neville Marriner, Kryzstof Penderecki, Roger Norrington, James Conlon, Hugh Wolff, and Bobby McFerrin.

Warland is committed to sharing his knowledge about the choral arts and has served on the jury for the Eric Ericson Award (an international choral conducting competition held in Sweden); was a faculty member for the All-Japan Chorus League National Competition in Fukuoka, Japan, has lectured on American music at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, served on the artistic staff of the Tolosa Choral Festival in Spain; acted as co-chair of both the choral and recording panels of the National Endowment for the Arts, and completed a 19-year tenure as Director of Choral Music at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Warland’s compositions and arrangements have been performed and recorded by choruses throughout the country. As editor, he has established choral series with G. Schirmer, Hal Leonard, earthsongs, Colla Voce, and Walton Music. Since the closing of the Dale Warland Singers organization in June 2005, Warland  remains active as guest conductor, composer, teacher, and producer of choral programs for public radio. Additional recordings of Dale and the Dale Warland Singers on the Gothic and reZound labels include Walden Pond: Music of Dominick Argento (G-49217, a Grammy Award nominee), Rachmaninoff’s Vespers (RZCD 5011), Christmas with the Dale Warland Singers (G-49208), Reincarnations (G- 49239), and Harvest Home: Songs From the Heart (G-49243). All available titles from the Dale Warland Singers’ discography can be found at below (click on the Dale Warland Singers artist link at the bottom of this page for a full listing).
 
OF THY MYSTICAL SUPPER, Opus 58, No. 7
(Vécheri Tvoyeyá táynïya)
Matthew Culloton, baritone
Alexandre Gretchaninoff fled post-revolution Russia for Paris and spent the last decades of his life in the United States. This motet dates from his church days when he was
making a name for himself with dark, lavishly layered music that sounds to our ears immediately "Russian." Gretchaninoff’s is almost symphonic choral music: big, sixteen-part pieces that reach for the effect of an orchestra. "Of Thy Mystical Supper" is traditionally sung on Thursday of Holy Week as the Orthodox faithful celebrate Communion.

Of Thy Mystical Supper,
O Son of God,
accept me today as a partaker:
for I will not speak of Thy Mystery
to Thine enemies,
neither like Judas will I give Thee,
but like the thief will I confess Thee:
"Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom."
text: from the Liturgy of Great and Holy Thursday
 
 
A PRAYER OF THE MIDDLE AGES
Howard Hanson headed the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music for several decades, where he composed prolifically, won a Pulitzer Prize (1944), and finished his career showered with honorary degrees. Despite all the acclaim (or because of it), Hanson attracted scholarly scorn for being devoted to tonal music making him astoundingly out-of-fashion. His motet "A Prayer of the Middle Ages" dates from the  United States bicentennial and starts in most American way: with a fanfare, this for voices. Instead of driving to a big tahdah" ending, though, the brilliance softens as the singers repeat the phrase "the greatest marvel." A section of denser, searching music follows until the words, "Thou madest heaven and earth" where Hanson revels in the glory of the tried-and-true major scale. His critics ground their teeth such music, but Hanson could do nothing but stay loyal to his muse.
 
We declare unto all the ages
as the greatest marvel,
ere there were hills and trees or the mighty ocean,
ere the sunlight shone forth
or the moon cast its beams, w
hen naught was, from end to end,
there wert Thou, O God, Thou almighty God,
from time unknown to time unknown,
Eternal God,
Thou who madest heaven and earth,
give to us wisdom, prudence and strength,
give through Thy holy blessing faith unending
that Thy will we may do.
Amen.
text: ca. 700 AD
 
O SACRUM CONVIVIUM
Vytautus Miskinis is the artistic director of the famous Azuoliukas Male Choir, professor of choral conducting at the National Academy of Music in Vilnius, and president of the Lithuanian Choral Union. He also holds the title of artistic director and chief conductor of the All-Lithuanian Choral Festival. For many years, Miskinis conducted the Kaunas State Choir and Vocal Ensemble Museum Musicum. His choirs have won prestigious prizes at numerous national and international competitions. Miskinis is often invited to lecture on music education, serve as guestconductor and present conducting seminars in Lithuania and abroad. He has participated in numerous national and international choral events as a jury member, conductor or composer. He has written some 100 religious motets, 10 masses and a large number of secular songs.
 
O sacrum convivium begins with the beautiful clustered sounds of the tenors and basses. With this foundation, he layers on lovely chants in the women’s voices, eventually sending them into the treble clefs higher altitudes where men could never hope to go. The men remain anchored, and in the penultimate bar of this lovely Communion motet, the basses finally aarrive on a low D-flat, a critical note they’ve avoided the whole piece, and here theaunmistakable effect is one of coming home.
 
O sacrum convivium,
O sacred banquet at which Christ
in quo Christus sumitur, is consumed,
recolitur memoria passionis eius, the memory of his Passion is
mens impletur gratia recalled, our souls are filled with grace,
et futurae gloriae. and the pledge of future glory.
 
TAKE HIM, EARTH, FOR CHERISHING
England’s Herbert Howells composed this motet in the spring of 1964, and dedicated it "to the honoured memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States of America." The work was premiered later that year in Washington, D.C. Having lost his own young son to a debilitating neurological disease a few years earlier, Howells was aware of the pained state of the audience who would first hear this music, so his setting begins with a sense of quiet reverence. Quickly the harmonies become thicker, the mood more agitated, leading to an expansive climax at the words, "Take, O take him, mighty Leader, Take again thy servant’s soul." From here the music broadens and dies back until the final repetition of the opening text: Take him, earth, for cherishing."
 
Take him, earth, for cherishing
To thy tender breast receive him.
Body of a man I bring thee,
Noble even in its ruin.
Once was this a spirit’s dwelling,
By the breath of God created.
High the heart that here was besting,
Christ the prince of all its living.
Guard him well, the dead I give thee,
Not unmindful of His creature
Shall he ask it: He who made it
Symbol of His mystery.
 
Comes the hour God hath appointed
To fulfill the hope of men,
Then must thou, in very fashion,
What I give, return again.
Take him, earth for cherishing.
Body of a man I bring thee.
Not though ancient time decaying
Wear away these bones to sand,
Ashes that a man might treasure
In the hollow of his hand:
Not though wandering winds
and idle winds
Drifting through the empty sky,
Scatter dust was nerve and sinew,
It is given to man to die.
 
Once again the shining road
Leads to ample Paradise;
Open are the woods again,
That the Serpent lost for men,
Take, O take him, mighty Leader,
Take again thy servant’s soul.
Grave his name, and pour the
Fragrant Balm upon the icy stone.
Take him, earth, for cherishing,
To thy tender breast receive him.
Body of a man I bring thee,
Noble in its ruin.
 
By the breath
of God created,
Christ the prince
of all its living.
Take, O take him,
Take him, earth,
for cherishing.
 
text: Prudentius (348-413),
from Humnus circa Exsequias Defuncti
translation: Helen Waddell by permission
 
SALVATION IS CREATED
(Spaséñiye sodélal)
Pavel Chesnokov was a prolific composer of nearly 500 choral works, 400 of them for the Church. He stands out for his reliance on traditional chant melodies. In this way he was part of the Synodal School’s movement to restore the glories of ancient tunes to contemporary Orthodox music. "Salvation Is Created" is a Communion hymn traditionally sung in Friday services.
 
Salvation is created in the midst
of the earth, O God.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
text: Communion Hymn for Fridays (Psalm 74:12)
 
HYMN TO THE CREATOR OF LIGHT
John Rutter’s beautiful double-choir motet, "Hymn to the Creator of Light," is dedicated  to the memory of Herbert Howells and was written for the dedication of the Howells memorial window in Gloucester Cathedral in 1992. Few music teachers in twentieth-century Britain were more influential than Howells, who greeted his first class at London’s Royal College of Music in 1920 and his last over 50 years later. Rutter carries Howells’ torch in his dual roles as a prolific choral composer and conductor of the superb Cambridge Singers. As always, Rutter is sensitive to the text, but he does especially lovely work here with the word "light."
 
Glory be to thee, O Lord, glory be to thee,
Creator of the visible light,
The sun’s ray, the flame of fire;
Creator also of the light invisible and intellectual:
That which is known of God, the light invisible.
Glory be to thee, O Lord, glory be to thee,
Creator of the light.
for writings of the law, glory be to thee:
for oracles of prophets, glory be to thee:
for melody of psalms, glory be to thee:
for wisdom of proverbs, glory be to thee:
experience of histories, glory be to thee:
a light which never sets.
God is the Lord, who hath shewed us light.
 
Light, who dost my soul enlighten;
Sun, who all my life dost brighten;
Joy, the sweetest man e’er knoweth;
Fount, whence all my being floweth.
From thy banquet let me measure,
Lord, how vast and deep its treasurer;
Through the gifts thou here dost give us,
As thy guest in heaven receive us.
 
text (first stanza): Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) translation: Alexander Whyte
(second stanza): J. Franck (1618-1677) translation: Catherine Winkworth (adapted)
 
O MAGNUM MYSTERIUM
Morten Lauridsen, a longtime faculty member at the University of Southern California, wrote O magnum mysterium in 1994 for the Los Angeles Master Chorale. His inspiration, as for countless composers before him, was the irony contained in this  Christmas picture: the newborn Lord of all, lying in the midst of lowly barn animals. This music has become a kind of greatest hit for Lauridsen, performed by choirs all over the world in the decade since its birth—a surprisingly big splash for a piece that Lauridsen calls "a quiet song of profound inner joy."
 
O magnum mysterium, O great mystery
et admirabile sacramentum, and wondrous sacrament,
ut animalia viderent Dominum that animals should see the newborn Lord,
natum, jacentum in praesepio! lying in their manger!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
meruerunt portare was worthy to bear the
Dominum Christum. Alleluia! Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia!
 
LUX AURUMQUE
Teresa Tierney, soprano
The Dale Warland Singers began performing the music of Eric Whitacre when the composer was only in his twenties. His Water Night and Cloudburst showed an amazing gift for choral writing—and Whitacre has only continued to expand on that gift. The beauty of Lux Aurumque, as in his other works, is how Whitacre tightens the screws to the inner harmonies, and then releases them. He took a novel approach to this text, choosing an English poem and having it translated into Latin for this setting.
 
Lux, Light,
calida gravisque pura velut aurum warm and heavy as pure gold
et canunt angeli molliter and the angels sing softly
modo natum. to the newborn baby.
 
text: Edward Esch
translation: Charles Anthony Silvestri
 
AVE MARIA
Joel C. Fischer, tenor Eric N. Hopkins, tenor Matthew Culloton, baritone
Biebl was born in Austria in 1906, fought briefly in World War II, and was captured and held prisoner of war for several years in an American war camp in Michigan. At war’s end he returned to Austria and devoted himself to writing music. His most well-known work, Ave Maria, written in 1964, is stunning. It is for seven-voice men’s choir, luxuriant to the point of sensuous, yet also deeply reverent.
 
Ave Maria gratia plena Hail Mary full of grace,
Dominus tecum The Lord is with thee
benedicta tu in mulieribus Blessed art thou among women
et benedictus fructus ventris And blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
tui, Jesus. Jesus.
Sancta Maria mater Dei Holy Mary, Mother of God
ora pro nobis peccatoribus Pray for us sinners
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Now and at the hour of our death.
Amen. Amen.
 
COMPLETE THIS WORK (from Choral Concerto)
Alfred Schnittke was born in Soviet Russia, though his parents were German, and so was his first language. He became one of Russia’s prize musical sons, graduating from the Moscow Conservatory where he also taught for many years. Early on he made a name for himself as the creator of dense and troubling avant garde works. Later in his career, his musical style became more straightforward. His Choral Concerto (1984-85), a big 45-minute score divided into four movements and based on the devotional Book of Lamentations by the tenth-century Armenian poet Gregory of Narek, is one of these later straightforward style works. Schnittke composed it around the time of a major heart attack, and perhaps for that reason the last movement, "Complete this work," has a reflective, almost nostalgic feel to it, calling up the spirit of ancient Russian chant. Gregory’s words ("that my singing may become healing") and the beautiful setting Schnittke gives them make a fitting benediction.
 
Sej trud, shto nachinal ja supavan’jem Complete this work
i symenem tvaim, Which I began in hope
ty zaverschi, And with Your name,
shtob pesnapen’je stala vrachevan’jem,
So that my singing may become healing,
tsel’ashchim rany tela i dushi. Curing the wounds of body and soul.
I jesli trud, moj skomnyj zavershitsa stvaim If my humble work is finished
pust’ dukh gaspoden, vn’om sajedinitsa With your holy blessing –
sa skudnym vdakhnavenjem maim, May the divine spirit in it
taboj darovannaje azaren’je Join with my meager inspiration,
ne pagasi Do not extinguish
moj razum ne pakin,’ The revelation You have granted,
no vnof’ prijemli vaskhvalen’ja Do not abandon my reason,
at tvajevo But, again and again, receive praise
sluzhitel’a, From your servant.
amin. Amen.
 
WE HYMN THEE (Tebé poyém) (from Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Opus 31, No. 12)
Lynette Johnson, mezzo soprano
Rachmaninoff’s motet, "We Hymn Thee," is taken from his Liturgy of St. JChrysostom, which stirred a hornet’s nest of controversy when it was unveiled in 1910
Moscow. The Orthodox Church scorned any composer who harmonized the ancient Russian
chants, particularly Rachmaninoff, whose setting is so lush.
 
Tebé poyém, We hymn Thee,
Tebé blagoslovím, we bless Thee,
Tebé blagodarím, Ghóspodi, we give thanks to Thee, O Lord,
i mólimtisia, Bózhe nash. and we pray unto Thee, O our God.
 
TO GOD "IN MEMORIAM M.B."
Martin Hodel, trumpet
Argento dedicated this motet in memory of Marlene Baver, deputy organist choirmaster at Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis, a member of the music staff at Macalester College and a close friend of Dale and Ruth Warland. Premiered in 1994, it pays tribute to Baver’s almost quarter-century of service at Plymouth, and to her diverse talents. Besides filling in when organist Philip Brunelle was out of town, she was a fine trumpeter and flutist. So in tribute to her, Argento’s setting of Robert Herrick’s poem from 1647 ends with a touching solo trumpet line, marked in the score "distant and simple."
 
Do with me, God! As Thou didst deal with John,
(Who writ that heavenly Revelation)
Let me (like him) first cracks of thunder heare;
Then let the Harps inchantment strike mine eare;
Here give me thornes; there, in thy Kingdome, set
Upon my head the golden coronet;
There give me day; but here my dreadfull night:
My sackcloth here; but there my Stole of white.
 
text: Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
 
OTCHE NASH
(Our Father)
By his twenty-fifth birthday, Nikolai Golovanov had created nearly two dozen choral works for the Church. His most glorious is this setting of the Lord’s Prayer. It builds slowly with thick chords toward the passionate climax ("But deliver us from the Evil One"), which Golovanov asks the choir to sing "with desperation."
 
Sej trud, shto nachinal ja supavan’jem Complete this work
i symenem tvaim, Which I began in hope
ty zaverschi, And with Your name,
shtob pesnapen’je stala vrachevan’jem,
So that my singing may become healing,
tsel’ashchim rany tela i dushi. Curing the wounds of body and soul.
I jesli trud, moj skomnyj zavershitsa stvaim If my humble work is finished
pust’ dukh gaspoden, vn’om sajedinitsa With your holy blessing –
sa skudnym vdakhnavenjem maim, May the divine spirit in it
taboj darovannaje azaren’je Join with my meager inspiration,
ne pagasi Do not extinguish
moj razum ne pakin,’ The revelation You have granted,
no vnof’ prijemli vaskhvalen’ja Do not abandon my reason,
at tvajevo But, again and again, receive praise
sluzhitel’a, From your servant.
amin. Amen.
 
text: Gregory of Narek (tenth century)


Average Customer Review: 5 of 5 | Total Reviews: 1 Write a review.

  2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
 
A Gold Star June 18, 2007
Reviewer:   from ,    
This CD received a glowing review on MPR's podcast "New Classical Tracks w/ Julie Amacher." Check out the 6/12 release!

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