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Berlioz: Te Deum

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Audio CD, March 20, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

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Berlioz's Te Deum is one of his largest works--not quite the extravaganza that he made of the Requiem, with its 4 brass bands and 16 timpanists, but big enough! It requires three choruses, an augmented orchestra, and solo organ. The opening measures, in which the orchestra and organ alternate in throwing huge chords out into space, were made for a cathedral acoustic such is offered here. Unfortunately, that's about the best part of this performance, which takes on a distinctly amateurish cast from there on. The various choruses are simply not up to the demands of the piece (they are utterly defeated by the warlike Judex crederis, just when they should sound strongest), and the conducting, which has to simply blaze with conviction, seems more concerned with simply getting through a tough job. Yet there are no other recordings of this work readily available in the domestic catalog, and this will give you a sense of what the piece is about--but certainly no more than that. --David Hurwitz


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Te Deum (Hymn)John Aler 8:09Album Only
  2. Te Deum, Op. 22: Tibi omnes (Hymn)John Aler 9:52Album Only
  3. Te Deum, Op. 22: Dignare (Prayer)John Aler 8:00Album Only
  4. Te Deum, Op. 22: Christe, Rex gloriae (Hymn)John Aler 5:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Te Deum, Op. 22: Te ergo quaesumus (Prayer)John Aler 7:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Te Deum, Op. 22: Judex crederis (Hymn and Prayer)John Aler10:47Album Only
  7. Te Deum, Op. 22 (Commentary): Introductory commentsDennis Keene 3:46$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Te Deum commentaryDennis Keene 2:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Te Deum, Op. 22 (Commentary): Tibi omnes commentaryDennis Keene 4:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Te Deum, Op. 22 (Commentary): Dignare commentaryDennis Keene 3:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Te Deum, Op. 22 (Commentary): Christe, rex gloriae commentaryDennis Keene 1:14$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Te Deum, Op. 22 (Commentary): Te ergo quaesumus commentaryDennis Keene 1:48$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. Te Deum, Op. 22 (Commentary): Judex crederis commentaryDennis Keene 5:45$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Performer: Voices of Ascension Chorus, Young Singers of Pennsylvania, John Aler
  • Orchestra: Voices of Ascension Orchestra
  • Conductor: Dennis Keene
  • Composer: Hector Berlioz
  • Audio CD (March 20, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Delos
  • ASIN: B00000070N
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,986 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Bob Zeidler on May 1, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Hopefully, you, the reader, will have moved past the unfairly negative editorial review by David Hurwitz and on to this one, and to the one by urcrewer below mine, someone who participated in the performance captured in this recording. The performance, and the recording as well, are far, far better than Mr. Hurwitz would have you believe.

I have had the pleasure of attending many musical performances in "Big John" (an affectionate nickname for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and the world's largest Gothic cathedral). Even with a full crowd (which I believe is in excess of 3,000 not counting standees), its reverberation time is approximately seven seconds, which can be a challenge to not only musicians but to a recording crew as well. But the Delos crew - one of the finest in the industry - was more than up to the task of capturing not only this remarkable Berlioz work but a good deal of the natural Big John acoustic ambience in truly lifelike sound.

Hector Berlioz, a "sui generis" composer if ever there were one, wrote this Te Deum as an "occasion piece" with the idea in mind that it would (and should) be performed in a cathedral, not a concert hall. For its full impact, it fairly cries out for the antiphonal sounds of the full orchestra and the pipe organ to provide a "call and response" at various points in the work (most prominently at the beginning and end, but elsewhere as well). This antiphonal intent of Berlioz simply cannot be realized in a concert hall - no matter how fine the organ - if the organ itself is not antiphonally disposed, as it can only be in a proper cathedral.

The occasion for this performance, as is well spelled out in the booklet notes but totally ignored by Mr.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 3, 2001
Format: Audio CD
The Berlioz "Te Deum" is one of the most grandiose classical compositions. It is difficult enough to amass the amount of musicians needed to perform this work, and to perform it well requires a blessing from a higher power. As a fourteen-year-old singing in the Young Singers of Pennsylvania, I vividly remember this performance. The cathedral was packed (the standing room in the aisles was filled), and even us musicians had to cram tightly together. The temperature in the cathedral was quite high, and I'll admit that I was deathly afraid of dropping my score on the first trombonist, for I was holding it directly over his left shoulder and my hands were sweaty and shaking. The aura of professionalism surrounding the concert, however, is a sentiment I will cherish. I will also never forget the satisfaction of being rendered temporarily deaf after the finale--being behind the brass section certainly has its perks!
I have listened to this recording multiple times, and I am still in awe of its beauty and magnificence. I respect all the musicians, Susan and Joseph Ohrt, and especially Dennis Keene immensely for the effort they put into the event. Keene's narration found on the last few tracks adds a nice touch to the recording and is especially helpful to first-time listeners so that they may better understand the piece. In all, this version of the "Te Deum" is a very solid one. (And whenever I tell my friends nearby at the Eastman School of Music I had the opportunity to participate in the making of this recording, this political science major gains a little respect!)
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Howard on March 18, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I don't know what recording Mr. Hurwitz was listening to, but I don't think it was this one. Hurwitz has written some excellent reviews, brimming with insight. I really do think there is a mixup here... and I know which recording it probably was. I refuse to say here, but amazon used to sell it. Read what the other reviewers say here for a far better idea of the sound and ambience of this recording: they've gotten it right! The sound, from my vantage point, is excellent, especially for a live recording. It's this recording's Tibi Omnes which gave me my first taste of the Berlioz Te Deum and it left me hungry for more.
Dennis Keene seems to have a love affair with this work and with the forces he conducted. It shows in the recording and it shows in his informative, separate narration on the musical and emotional structure of this masterwork by Berlioz. Illustrated as it is by selections from the performance, it's not only educational, it's beautiful and entertaining.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Karl Henning on September 6, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This is a marvelous recording of a marvelous performance of a marvelous piece.
Forget David Hurwitz. The very little that he says which happens to be accurate, is poisoned by the plethora of his bewildering balderdash.
This is a quick recap of Hurwitz' absurd mis-remarks:
"Unfortunately, that's about the best part of this performance ..."
Not to give short shrift to the sonic grandeur of those opening chords ... but to say that it essentially goes downhill from there, is banana oil. For one thing, the magnificent fortissimo cadence, and soft coda to finish up the "Tibi omnes" is glorious; and sets a brilliant contrast for the dolcissimo opening of the "Dignare."
"... which takes on a distinctly amateurish cast from there on."
I know two hundred directors of church music, who would commit anything short of a deadly sin, if they could thereby be granted such a passel of "amateurs." The astounding thing is the high level of performance, with all those musicians in such a vast space.
"The various choruses are simply not up to the demands of the piece ..."
Rubbish. The several choruses do beautifully.
" ... (they are utterly defeated by the warlike Judex crederis, just when they should sound strongest)"
If this is defeat, the musical world could do with more defeat.
"... and the conducting ... seems more concerned with simply getting through a tough job."
The conductor led nearly 400 musicians. You DON'T LEAD nearly 400 musicians in a performance this fine, of a piece lasting nearly an hour, unless they're convinced by your direction. I didn't see Dr Keene actually wave the baton, don't get me wrong.
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