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Morten Lauridsen: Nocturnes Import

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Audio CD, Import, February 13, 2007
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Morten Lauridsen: Nocturnes
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Morten Lauridsen's choral music is well-rooted in both early music and Renaissance polyphony, but he is not one of the so-called "holy minimalists" whose very sounds are reminiscent of centuries-old music. He is American and approaches the past as a building block; he may use old techniques but his voice is original, lyrical, and easy to take, without ever seeming simple-minded. He writes so the texts can be understood - here he uses words by Robert Graves, Rainer Maria Rilke, Pablo Neruda and James Agee and throws in some non-secular psalms and a Latin motet, "Ave, dulcissima Maria." This last is a piece of great tranquility scored for male chorus, with a set of finger cymbals played by Lauridsen himself (he plays piano elsewhere on the CD). The group Polyphony, under Stephen Layton, performs all these works with impeccable pitch and diction; the fives poems by Rilke about roses are particularly handsome. He uses vast variations in dynamics almost ochestrally and the effect is marvelous - large crescendos excite and sustained soft singing soothes. There's nothing here that will jar the listener - Lauridsen's dissonances are at the service of the text and are normally quickly resolved. Fans of choral music should know what this composer (born in 1958) is up to - his music is both interesting and sheerly pleasurable. --Robert Levine

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Lament for Pasiphae (Mid-Winter Songs- Robert Graves)
  2. Like Snow
  3. She tells her love while half asleep
  4. Mid-Winter Waking
  5. Intercession in Late October
  6. En une seule fleur (Les Chansons des roses - R.M. Rilke)
  7. Contre qui, rose
  8. De ton reve trop lein
  9. La rose complete
  10. Dirait-on
  11. I will lift up mine eyes
  12. O come, lut us sing unto the Lord
  13. Ave, dulcissima Maria
  14. Sa nuit d'ete (Rilke) (Nocturnes)
  15. Soneto de la noche (Neruda)
  16. Sure on this shining night (Agee)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 13, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion UK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,012 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By James C. Dearing on March 30, 2007
Format: Audio CD
The recent recording of Morten Lauridsen's choral works entitled "Nocturnes" (Hyperion label) should be nominated for a Grammy. Stephen Layton's group, Polyphony, in collaboration with the composer and the Britten Sinfonia, have produced one of the most stunning choral CDs I have ever heard. Serious music lovers, not just choral/vocalists, should add this to their library.

Jim Dearing, Director of Choral Studies

Indiana University of Pennsylvania
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 1, 2007
Format: Audio CD
The audience for fine choral music hopefully is growing beyond the seasonal and occasional mighty works of Handel, Mozart, Bach. Certainly with such performing arts groups as the Los Angeles Master Chorale and England's Polyphony recording and performing choral music from the recent past and from the present the appreciation for this inspiring genre will expand. And as long as there are recordings of the caliber of this collection of works by Morten Lauridsen the possibilities are evident.

Best known for his 'instant classic' LUX AETERNA, the gift of Morten Lauridsen is well in evidence with this recording. And while there are other recordings of some of the works here included, this CD is the premiere recording of six pieces that merit the music lover's interest. Lauridsen's 'sound' is that of the widely spread chord that acts as the matrix for the internal development of melodies and ideas. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the completely ethereal 'Ave, dulcissima Maria' written for male voices alone with finger cymbal accompaniment. The sweep of adoration and emotion that pulsates from this beautifully crafted work places it among the great choral compositions of any era.

The NOCTURNES from which the CD takes its title consist of three mixed chorus pieces with piano accompaniment. Set to poems of Rilke ('Sa nuit d'été), Neruda ('Soneto de la noche'), and Agee ('Sure on this shining night'), these three related works bask in the glory not only of Lauridsen's choral writing but also in the variation of three languages. The performances of these works and performed with fine ensemble sound and diction by Polyphony and the direction of Stephen Layton and one the Britten Sinfonia provides the orchestral portion on the well-known 'Mid-Winter Songs'. This is one recording that belongs in every lover of fine choral music and as a superb introduction to those for whom the choral repertoire is a new discovery. Grady Harp, September 07
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25 of 36 people found the following review helpful By NH Wolverine on March 14, 2007
Format: Audio CD
There are some strong reasons to buy this CD. The Mid-Winter Songs and Les Chansons des Roses are wonderful song cycles, Polyphony is as good a choral ensemble as exists, and here you will find them at the top of their game. Unfortunately, there also are strong reasons to leave this CD on the rack, and Lauridsen's Nocturnes provide two of them.

The Nocturnes are choral settings of three superlative lyrics: "Sa nuit d'ete" by Rainer Maria Rilke, "Soneto de la noche" by Pablo Neruda, and "Sure on this shining night" by James Agee. The Agee nocturne is a worthy effort, but to my ears the other two are crushing disappointments: uninspired music (at best) that doesn't approach the stature of the lyrics and isn't worth a second listen. The first time I listened to them I was stunned and sadly surprised by how bad I thought they were. The Rilke nocturne compares very unfavorably with the Chansons des Roses (which also are settings of Rilke's poetry), and the Neruda was, to my ears, an unbelievable botch of an extraordinary text. (Summary of long argument: I think Lauridsen's music is badly suited to the lyric, which I think he has misinterpreted, and nothing to write home about otherwise.)

I've seen this music reviewed favorably elsewhere, so as a check to my opinion I consulted a close friend, a former student of Lauridsen's at USC who was present at the Los Angeles premiere of the Nocturnes. The (slightly edited) response:

"When I heard the premiere, I was extremely disappointed. When I heard about the interesting new texts he was using ... I hoped he would break away from his safety net and do something new -- let the texts lead him somewhere else. But he didn't. The whole performance, I and [my friends] kept looking at each other in disappointment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dana Gartner on February 20, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
An inspired genius composes music which touches the deepest part of the listener, music for persons who no longer wish for "noise" but who long for music in which there is space and silence and room for breath. I do recommend listening to "Northwest Journey" first.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cristian Reyes on May 7, 2010
Format: Audio CD
In this recording of all-lauridsen music, Polyphony and director Stephen Layton once again collaborate with Dr. Lauridsen for a somewhat good, although lacking, recording of Lauridsen's pieces. Overall, the cd is good and even includes some gems of earlier works that Lauridsen wrote that are recorded here for the first time, such as I will lift up mine eyes and O come let us sing unto the lord. The nocturnes are especially beautiful, if not typically lauridsen in their chord structure and melodic line, which for some people might be a bad thing for those who were looking for something different in Lauridsen's new pieces. Below, I will review each of the choral cycles separately:

The Nocturnes, the newest choral work by Lauridsen on this cd, are excellent pieces and are premiered in this recording for the first time. Although each piece is in a different language and composed in a different style with no real connection musically between the 3 pieces (2 are accompanied by the piano while one is a cappella), each piece is tied together through texts that have a nocturnal motif. These songs are sung excellently by polyphony, with great sensitivity to the texts as well as polyphony's squeeky clean sound and excellent diction and balance. My favorite is the setting to james agee's "sure on this shining night". This gorgeous song will make any choral lover's heart melt into musical bliss.

Mid-Winter songs:
The mid-winter songs are one of lauridsen's older choral cycles and were written for the USC chamber choir originally for piano accompaniment.
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