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Evocation of The Spirit
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"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.
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 Amazon.com 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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 morePublished on July 11, 2010 by Lawrence M. Probes
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 morePublished on November 7, 2009 by Matthew C. Stella
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 morePublished on January 25, 2009 by M. G. McGuire
I have to agree with Randolph Wagner. This CD gets 5 stars for the choral pieces minus 3 stars for the recording quality. Read morePublished on November 24, 2003 by T. A. Effler
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 morePublished on November 21, 2001 by Randolph R. Wagner
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 morePublished on June 19, 2001 by Michael J. Parker
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 morePublished on May 31, 2001
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
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 morePublished on February 24, 2001 by A. G. Plumb