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Northern Lights: Choral Works by Ola Gjeilo Hybrid SACD - DSD

54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The critically acclaimed, Arizona-based Phoenix Chorale (formerly Phoenix Bach Choir) originally focused on music of the Renaissance and baroque periods, but today is equally dedicated to the creation and performance of new music. On this disc the Choir performs choral works, and settings of sacred texts by the Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo.

When he first heard Gjeilo's Ubi caritas, Charles Bruffy was instantly hooked, finding the music refreshing and magnetic . Bruffy brought Gjeilo's music to the Chorale and its audiences, and the response was immediate. Soon after, Gjeilo was invited to be the Chorale's first Composer-in-Residence.

Phoenix, a setting of the Agnus Dei, is dedicated to Charles Bruffy and the Phoenix Chorale in honour of its fiftieth anniversary. When Gjeilo first visited the choir in Arizona, he had never been to the desert before, and the 'quiet beauty and barrenness of the landscape' moved him deeply. He describes Phoenix as 'symphonic in nature... one of those pieces where the text is very much the servant of the music, not the other way around'.

In contrast, Northern Lights takes its inspiration from Gjeilo's homeland, Norway, and the 'terrible beauty' of the natural phenomenon that may be observed there. The music reflects the powerful and electric quality of the northern lights, which must have seemed both mesmerising and terrifying to people in the past when no one knew what they were, and superstition prevailed.

The Phoenix Chorale made its first appearance on Chandos in 2004 with Shakespeare in Song. Since then it has released several joint recordings with its sister choir, the Kansas Chorale, featuring among others Alexander Grechaninov's Passion Week, the disc nominated for a Grammy in no fewer than four categories, including Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance, winning in the Best Engineered and Classical album categories.

Review

Produced by 2013 GRAMMY Award winner for Producer of the Year, Classical, Blanton Alspaugh --National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, 2013

Despite the rather obvious association with the aurora borealis, one
of the most spectacular natural settings in the world, the title
Northern Lights has a specifically religious connotation, as indeed do
all the pieces on this disc. It is in effect a religious album though
you would not know it by Chandos's clever masking of that fact, making
it look more like a typical Norwegian album devoted to the cold and
beautiful clime of that country. Ola Gjeilo is a profoundly religious
man if we are to take the texts seriously, coming as excerpts from his
Sunrise Mass to St. Augustine, to John of the Cross. In that regard he
fits right into the James Macmillan scheme of things, yet his music is
a far cry from the acerbic struggles of that wonderful composer. Even
Eric Whitacre's densely packed dissonances hail from a distance
Gjeilo's basically diatonic and melody-driven compositions, making for
a quaint and sometimes ingenious combination of Slavic feeling set in
the mode of someone like Daniel Pinkham. But even his occasional
flirtations with mixed meter are not to be taken any more seriously
than that given in a song like 'All You Need is Love' - the rhythm is
established and that is that, no confusion needed. . . I can't
imagine any music lover not being enchanted with this superbly sung
album, recorded in spacious Super Audio sound that is simply riveting.
Highly recommended! --Audiophile Audition, Steven Ritter

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.
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Product Details

  • Conductor: Charles Bruffy
  • Composer: Ola Gjeilo
  • Audio CD (February 28, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B006O51CF2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,223 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Patera on March 1, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am a long-time fan of the Phoenix Chorale and when I heard they were teaming up with Ola Gjeilo I knew it would be a perfect match. And it is. Choral music surely doesn't get much better than this; both the music and the performers are exquisite. But I must warn you. Be careful what you're doing while listening to this CD, at least the first time around, as you will want to give it your full attention. Driving a car is definitely not recommended, as I learned to my horror. (This will turn out to be the most expensive CD I've ever purchased! Good thing my husband loves the Phoenix Chorale, too.) Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back, and just listen to the gorgeous voices of the Phoenix Chorale as they make magic with Ola Gjeilo. Five stars is not enough!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By lilium_auratum on February 28, 2012
Format: Audio CD
This album is extraordinary. The Phoenix Chorale has such a rich and clear sound, which really allows the complexities of the harmonies to show through. This is also a beautiful study in the evolution of Ola Gjeilo's compositional style. If you are not familiar with this composer, you should be. This album is not to be missed!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Roof on April 4, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I love this CD. In the past several monthes, like many others, I have become a huge fan of Baltic choral music. I've always loved choral music by most of the "classical" greats of all eras, but this contemporary a cappella music is something very new to me. I don't have the technical wherewithall to know why; but for some reason, the Baltic composers seem to have something that others are lacking; a depth, a melancholy, an ability to carry the listener away. Whatever that magic is, Ola Gjeilo, a Norwegian transplanted to America, has it. All of the tracks are wonderful; however, track number 2, "Serenity" is one of those rare, transcendant works that music lovers pine for. Complex, simple, and occasionally even cloying, it reveals more in 5 minutes than most composers can say in a lifetime. That's quite an accomplishment for a 21st, or even last half of the 20th century, composer. Performance, engineering and ambience are perfect. I haven't heard Baltic choral music performed more "Baltically" than this. Highly recommended to Baltic fans - you know who you are.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James W. Unger on January 17, 2013
Format: Audio CD
If you are a fan of choral harmonies and deeply emotional absolutely breathtaking sounds than this recording is a must have!!!
"Northern lights" celebrates life and shines with a heavingly charm and will touch your soul in a way only a few can do. After buying and listening to this disc I reached out to the composer Ola Gjeilo directly to simply thank him for this gift. I was simply mesorized by the tranquil harmonic beauty of this little unassuming album....it really caught me off guard.

I had heard the song "The Ground" and after doing some research discovered it was written by Ola Gjeilo and I ordered this SACD immediately. I can not stop playing this album......it is just that good!
Gjeilo blends symphonic soundscapes reminiscent of the finest movie soundtracks with deeply moving harmonic and spiritual choral parts. Ola contributes piano all the way thru and at times it almost feels like "Mike Oldfield meets Gabriel Faure!".

The end result is a peaceful, yet deeply moving spiritual album that will simply take you past the edge of the universe and enable you to see the Northern Lights like never before.

The sound is on par with many of the better Chandos SACD's and clearly sound and feeling was the total goal of this album for Ola! ..............goal achieved.

If i had to take one album with me to the stars it just might this album

This is an achievement album and a sonic beauty....

Fans of movie soundtracks , classical choral work and symphonia will adore this album!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Karen on March 1, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I received my Northern Lights CD I couldn't wait to get it opened! From the very first note to the last, it is absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. I can't recommend this CD enough. I was completely mesmerized the first time I listened to it in it's entirety.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 13, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've never been a huge fan of choral music. However, I heard some of this CD on my XM radio and decided to explore it. I heard enough of the remaining bands to convince me to add it to my collection. I've been collecting music in some form or other for over 60 years. I have a huge classical collection of all types, plus over 40 operas, songs, solo instrumentals; additionally, jazz, rock - you name it. I have all my vinyl, 45s, tapes, CD's MP3s on my iPod. So, I don't add new things readily. After receiving it, I listened to this recording at least 5 times, loaded it into my iTunes library and listened on ear buds. This is so soothing, relaxing and beautiful, evocative of the undulating Northern Lights of the title. 'Dark Night of the Soul' and 'The Spheres' are especially lovely.

In addition, this recording was beautifully engineered with no irritating changes in dynamic range so common on CDs (it's so soft you can't hear it and gets so loud it blows you out of your chair - ever get one of those?) And if you like to read, this is wonderful background music as well. Definitely at 5-star recording.
Northern Lights: Choral Works by Ola Gjeilo
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