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Evocation of the Spirit

Henryk Górecki , Arvo Pärt , Frank Martin , Samuel Barber , Arnold Schoenberg , Robert Shaw , Shaw Festival Singers Audio CD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Shaw Festival Singers
  • Conductor: Robert Shaw
  • Composer: Henryk Górecki, Arvo Pärt, Frank Martin, Samuel Barber, Arnold Schoenberg
  • Audio CD (March 28, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Telarc
  • ASIN: B000003D19
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,744 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Gorecki: Totus Tuus
2. Magnificat
3. I. Kyrie
4. II. Gloria
5. III. Credo
6. IV. Sanctus
7. V. Agnus Dei
8. Agnus Dei
9. Friede Auf Erden

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, Insistent, Beauty October 30, 2000
This disc is a soaring masterpiece of truly sublime music. These five pieces of twentieth century choral music shine with the beauty of the moon on a cloudless winter night. Each piece is distinctive; yet they all have a certain quality in common. Robert Shaw and his singers give stunning performances of every one of these pieces.
"Totus, Tuus" a motet by Henryk Gorecki leads off the disc. It is stunningly simple. It is also subtly insistent. It is an excellent vehicle by which to be drawn into the rest of the disc.
Arvo Part's "Magnificat" has an earthier sound dwelling underneath the gently whispering soprano. The liner notes dub the style as being the result of the composer's use of "primitive" materials in the composition of the work. I don't know much about that, but I certainly like the sound of the finished product.
The Mass for double chorus a cappella by Frank Martin is the centerpiece of this disc; a worthily so. Martin probably was, until recently, the least known of these composers. This disc and a few others have been rectifying that situation. Sometimes likened to the work of Palestrina (a favorite of mine) Martin's mass is truly dynamic. This mass has a charged yet timeless feeling to it. The haunting Gloria alone is worth the price of this disc.
Speaking of the price of this disc...Whatever you feel about the other music contained on this recording, I urge you to get a copy just to listen to The Agnus Dei by Samuel Barber. It is based on his mournful Adagio for Strings. To hear this is to hear sheer beauty.
Rounding out the songs on this disc is Friede auf Erden by Arnold Schoenberg. It is probably the least accessible of the pieces; but is also a thing of beauty.
This disc is wonderful. It is great music for using in times of contemplation. It is also great just to listen to for the sheer beauty. I recommend it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual! April 25, 2002
This is a magnificent recording. Even though, a capella CD's can sometimes be hard to stomach, I find myself listening to this disc again and again. This recording will literally lift your spirits. Gorecki's Totus Tuus is epitome of sublime, easing effortlessly across the span of 11 minutes. Part's Magnificat is a little darker in tone, but if you are patient it will blossom repeatedly. Martin's Mass is somewhere between ethereal and madrigal. Barber's Agnus Dei, based on his Adagio for Strings, is uncannily eerie, yet powerfully cathartic at the same time. Finally, Schoenberg's Peace on Earth is emotionally buoyant, absolutely gorgeous, and sadly, just as relevant now as it was when it was written almost a century ago. The aural depth captured by Telarc will engulf you in sound. Shaw conducts each of these modern masterpieces with aplomb and the Festival Singers sing their lungs out. An exciting album, it is definitely worth being a part of anyone's collection.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shaws best April 30, 1999
By A Customer
This is my favorite recording of Shaw, and the Festival Singers. The music, though from different composers, all fits together on this album as if it were designed as a concept. What a beautiful concept it is, with music of stunning grace and beauty, performed almost inhumanly beautifully, in a venue without equal, and to top it all off, recorded superbly! This CD is my vote for the finest vocal recording of all time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shaw Does it Again March 5, 1999
By A Customer
The late Robert Shaw shines with his Festival Singers in this most luminescent recording. Shaw has done much to bring twentieth century music to the forefront of the choral repertoire, and this recording is a fine example of his efforts. The entire recording reaches to the heart of the listener, reminding us exactly what the performance of music is all about. The Schoenberg "Friede auf Erden" is particularly touching, noting the idea of "Peace on Earth" in our troubled times. -MCR
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Barber is cathartic beyond measure. September 14, 2001
I write this review three days after the tragic September 11 events in New York and Washington, three days which left me numbed, during which I searched and searched for music having cathartic value - "music of healing" - largely in vain. For most of that time, the value of listening to music seemed to have eluded me. (Given the circumstances, this must have happened to others as well, even others for whom music is a large part of their lives, as it is for me.)

This was not a state of affairs destined to go on open-ended. I knew that a major part of breaking this "blockage" would somehow involve the recorded work of Robert Shaw, whose recorded performances have in the past led me out of such "wildernesses." And so it was that his recording of the Bach B-Minor Mass (reviewed elsewhere at by me) provided the "lion's share" of healing-through-music. One need only listen to Shaw's performance of the closing "Dona nobis pacem" of this Mass to be instantly uplifted.

But his performance of Barber's Agnus Dei, a choral arrangement by Barber of his Adagio for Strings (which in turn is a string orchestra arrangement of the second movement of his String Quartet, Op. 11), provided me with a healing of an entirely different nature: A searing work guaranteed to cauterize and thereby provide emotional catharsis and release.

One cannot fathom what was going through a very youthful Sam Barber's mind when he wrote this Op. 11 second movement. But we should be thankful that Arturo Toscanini, in 1936, encouraged Barber to arrange it for string orchestra, and that much later (in 1967) Barber chose to arrange it yet again for chorus. And that Maestro Shaw saw fit to include it on this Evocation of the Spirit choral compilation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Choral Master Craftsmanship
The Robert Shaw Festival Singers transport the listener to a place of tranquility and illumination. Their performance of Agnus Dei by Samuel Barber is particularly evocative. Read more
Published on July 11, 2010 by Lawrence M. Probes
2.0 out of 5 stars If you're looking for a quality recording of the Martin Mass, look...
If you're like me, and wanted to hear Robert Shaw's interpretation of the beautiful mass for double choir by Frank Martin,forget it. Read more
Published on November 7, 2009 by Matthew C. Stella
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a heavenly CD!
Evocation of the Spirit I have purchased this CD annually for many years. I give it as a gift to the seniors who are finishing their course work in EMU's Music Therapy Program. Read more
Published on January 25, 2009 by M. G. McGuire
2.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars subtracting 3 stars
I have to agree with Randolph Wagner. This CD gets 5 stars for the choral pieces minus 3 stars for the recording quality. Read more
Published on November 24, 2003 by T. A. Effler
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning: NOT a keeper!
Having had the privilege of singing with Shaw on many occasions, I know and honor him as a passionate choral technician and teacher who could always bring out better than the best... Read more
Published on November 21, 2001 by Randolph R. Wagner
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Shaw Recording Ever
This CD was an introduction of 20th century music for me. There is not a SINGLE TRACK on this CD that is not exceptional. The Martin Mass is wonderful and the Barber is Orgasmic! Read more
Published on June 19, 2001 by Michael J. Parker
1.0 out of 5 stars I guess I'm just old-fashioned...
I bought this CD for Barber's Agnus Dei, and unfortunately, that's the only track I really like! All the others are too weird and "out there" for me. Read more
Published on May 31, 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Shaw's Best
This exposed me to the works of Part, Gorecki and Martin. As a result, I like the direction contemporary choral music is heading.
Most of this work is easily accessible. Read more
Published on April 17, 2001 by Steven Clem Haley
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty from the Twentieth Century
This disc is wonderful from start to finish. I think the most special piece is the Schoenberg at the end, and the least successful the Barber arrangement of the adagio, which... Read more
Published on February 24, 2001 by A. G. Plumb
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection
This is by far my favorite recording of Robert Shaw. If you are in search of choral perfection, look no further than Shaw. Read more
Published on March 24, 2000
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