22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2008
Format: Audio CD
This is a glorious recording. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the soloists, Bryn Terfel and Fredericia Von Stade are outstanding. But this music belongs to the composer, Mack Wilberg and to the recording engineers. And yes, to the newly renovated Tabernacle building for it's acoustical splendor.
This is the first major work we have heard from Mack Wilberg. Well-known for his splendind choral arrangements, it has long been obvious that this gentle man has been endowed with extraordinary musical talent. But his magnificent Requiem now elevates him to the ranks of major American composers.
For this Requiem is other-worldly. While Wilberg's sound evoke elements of Vaughn-Williams, Brahms, Faure, and Durufle', this work is entirely his and truly original. The lush strings in orchestral accompaniment are obviously predominant and add deeply-felt mesmeric themes to the work. Sung by a musical organization unlike any other, this recording exhibits a combination of excellence that all serious music lovers will want to add to their music collection.
Five other Wilberg short works complete this album. It's difficult to hold back from using every beautifully descriptive adjective I can think of to all this lovely music.
If there ever was a "ten" rank, this recording deserves it.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Those who are deeply familiar with the Mormon choral traditions in composition, arrangement, and/or performance will be somewhat less surprised than other listeners at the beauty of Mack Wilberg's oecumenical Requiem (to parts of the Romish Catholic text in Latin of the Missa pro defunctis mixed with other texts in English). Indeed, Mormon choral music and hymnody have flourished in both of the major Mormon groups, i.e. in the L.D.S. as well as in the (lesser-known, numerically less numerous) R.L.D.S./Community of Christ denominations (or, as many rather acerbically designate (whether justifiably or merely contentiously) the former as a pagan cult and the latter as a slightly off-kilter Christian sect). The texts which Mack Wilberg sets to music on this CD of his choral music include only two, both by David Warner (a frequent collaborator with Wilberg as author of words for his music), that, presumably, are by any specifically Mormon author.
The mostly gently flowing, memorably melodious style (often modally tinged as well as filled with imaginative chromatic harmonies) of Wilberg's Requiem brings to mind choral music of several composers of the Anglo-American choral tradition; coming to mind most readily for comparisions are, in their choral works, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frederick Delius, Herbert Howells, John Rutter, Randall Thompson, perhaps at times Gustav Holst, Benjamin Britten, and (sadly neglected) William ("Bill") Schneeweiss. Wilberg's music, for all that, sounds fresh and genuinely inspired, often rapturously ethereal. In this work, it is only those sections featuring the male solo voice that seem to sag to merely tiresome declamation and melodic skimpiness, rather as Britten succombs to the same weaknesses in his often dreary solo vocal writing. (On the other hand, this difference, perhaps as intended, does lend variety of mood and pacing to the music of this religious work.) This is a pity, given that the male vocal soloist is the quite fine baritone Bryn Terfel; even in Wilberg's setting of the famous 23rd Psalm ("The Lord Is My Shepherd", set to the pre-K.J.V. translation of this text as found in the pre-A.V./pre-K.J.V. Tudor English Bible translation by Bp. Miles Coverdale and more notably in Anglicanism's traditional Book of Common Prayer, which incorporates Coverdale's Psalter), which Wilberg includes as a movement in his Requiem, has melodically barren music, which Bryn Terfel sings better than it deserves. However, such lapses are relatively brief. On the other hand, the solo female vocal movements are very lovely, indeed, and the music soars lyrically, as beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade so memorably sings it on this presumably premiere recording.
Of course, the Mormon (L.D.S.) Tabernacle Choir is no fluke among Utah choirs and choruses; those who know Utah's university vocal ensembles, the Mormon Youth Chorus, and many other superb L.D.S. vocal aggregations will know just how high the choral standard throughout Utah is. However, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir deserves its pre-eminent popularity and, among the discerning, well-earned reputation for genuine excellence; the Salt Lake City Tabernacle's famous resident choir here sings with its marvellous combination of natural (almost non-"classical"), unforced vocal tone quality matched with admirable choral diction, sure intonation and unanimity. Since leaving the stable of Columbia/C.B.S./Sony Records' artists, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in its recordings for other labels, among them Bonneville, Laserlight, and its own self-named label, has freed itself of Columbia's rather excessively bloated instrumental backing arrangements and unimaginative choice of repertoire. There are many recordings to this fine choir's post-Columbia days' credit, and this one is as recommendable as any for those who have missed out on them (as well, of course, for collectors who, indeed, long have had some or all of them in their collections!).
Wilberg's other works on this CD, devoted entirely to his music, are all enjoyable, with no diminution of inspiration from one of them to another, as there is briefly at times among the Requiem's various movements. My personal favourite is the mediaevally flavoured "Ubi caritas et amor", too sublimely lovely to be so austere as that description might imply. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square perform them all admirably.
It might be advisable to be sure that the buyer take the precaution of purchasing this CD, if not from Amazon, where he would be able to take it back for exchange later, if necessary. The copy used for this review had disagreeably extraneous sounds at two points, once in track 1 and again in track 3; furthermore, on one of the CD players the discs within these same passages would repeat without going forward, but on the other CD machine there was no interruption of the music's flow despite that intrusion of unwanted noise. The sound quality, as such, captured at the recording venue (Salt Lake City's Tabernacle), is pleasingly vivid and sonorous.
Recommended to, among others, music lovers eager for discovery of worthy new choral repertory and, naturally, to the many collectors who make a point of seeking out various settings and concepts of the funeral music known, however loosely, as Requiem.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Wilberg's Requiem is a masterful work that blends the best elements of Brahms, Vaughn-Williams, Faure', and others into a rich, soulful sound. The joyous text and contemplative harmonies are a delight, as is the glorious sound of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. The solo voices of Bryn Terfel and Frederica von Stade provide a delightful punctuation to the crisp Kyrie and resounding Requiem Aeternum. This recording is a must have for any lover of sacred classical choral music. If you love John Rutter's Requiem or Magnificat, you will love the Wilberg Requiem.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I' m the principal of a music school and have dealt with music my entire life. I remember how my entire being responded listening to the ' Prelude a l' apres-midi d' un faune' of Claude Debussy at the age of 14. I thought, this was a one time experience in my life. Well, I was wrong! The same happened again, listening to the gorgous, ingenious music of Mack Wilberg....Sheer beauty, depth and greatness of sound, thrilling dramatic setup....what a discovery. And the Mormon Tabernacle at its best, clarity, passion and devotion. A CD you should not miss!
Michael Heib, Germany