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Whitacre: Cloudburst and Other Choral Works [Import]

Eric Whitacre , Polyphony , Robert Millett , Stephen Betteridge , Stephen Layton Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)

Price: $21.08 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Whitacre: Cloudburst and Other Choral Works + Light & Gold + Water Night
Price for all three: $47.94

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Product Details

  • Performer: Eric Whitacre, Polyphony, Robert Millett, Stephen Betteridge, Stephen Layton
  • Audio CD (February 14, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion UK
  • ASIN: B000E1XOUS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,736 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. i thank You God for most this amazing day (1999, TEXT: e.e. cummings)
2. I Hide Myself
3. Sleep
4. I Will Wade Out
5. Go, Lovely Rose
6. hope, faith, life, love (1999, TEXT: e.e. cummings)
7. Hope, Faith, Life, Love
8. Cloudburst
9. With A Lily On Your Hand
10. This Marriage
11. A Boy and a Girl (2002, TEXT: Octavio Paz)
12. A Boy And A Girl
13. Her Sacred Spirit Soars

Editorial Reviews

Eric Whitacre is one of the leading lights of the choral music scene. The 14 text-centered, emotionally-charged works on this well-filled disc suggest why. Outwardly conservative, his music is full of fascinating harmonic explorations, dynamic shifts, and rhythmic nuances that make them fun to sing and absorbing to listen to. The texts are drawn from poets of the stature of e.e. cummings, Octavio Paz, Garcia Lorca, and Emily Dickinson, among others. And they pack emotional power, as in When David Heard, whose Biblical text is illuminated by powerful tiered dynamics. He’s adept at tonal contrasts as well, the soaring sopranos in Sleep have their counterparts in a firm bass line. In Cloudburst he adds piano and percussion to the unaccompanied chorus to dramatic effect, and in some works, such as Cummings' "hope, faith, life, love" he chooses to set only a handful of the poem's text, with harmonic movements and other unexpected twists focusing attention. The fine English chorus, Polyphony, is at their best here, clearly relishing the inventiveness of the music, and the sound is from Hyperion's top drawer. --Dan Davis

Product Description

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing new take on Whitacre February 28, 2006
Format:Audio CD
"Cloudburst" is a welcome addition to the expanding library of recordings of Eric Whitacre's choral works. Here, Polyphony sings expertly, as always, and brings new life to many of Whitacre's pieces with their remarkable intonation, musical phrasing, and spine-tingling dynamic range. This is a special choir made up of some special voices. Conductor Stephen Layton offers some fresh perspectives, with musically sound conducting choices throughout the album (with one major exception, see below). Certain selections stand head and shoulders above any previous recordings, especially "i thank You God..." and "Sleep," where Layton strikes a glorious balance of momentum and rubato, and the nuanced singing evidences the discipline and artistry of the group. (If Polyphony's sopranos don't take your breath away at the climax of "Sleep," nothing will!)

Fantastic recordings of newer Whitacre pieces add to the value of the album. These are some of the strongest tracks on the CD: Her Sacred Spirit Soars, A Boy and a Girl, and This Marriage, all excellent and evidence of Whitacre's development as a composer. Conspicuously absent is "Leonardo Dreams of his Flying Machine," one of Whitacre's most popular choral compositions.

Despite Polyphony's many successes here, there are several less than stellar moments interspersed throughout this album of outstanding choral artistry. Occasionally it sounds as though there are 2 separate choirs battling it out here: the high voices and low voices. The pitch-perfect high voices consistently sing in traditional English straight tone, while the the men occasionally vary from their usual gorgeous unified choral tone to a wobbly male Wagnerian opera chorus several times throughout the album, especially on forte passages.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Music, Superbly sung March 2, 2006
By Biff
Format:Audio CD
There is good reason for this recording to be topping the bestseller charts. Polyphony Choir based in England is a fantastic choir comprising some very special voices, some genius musicality and all brought together under the masterful direction of Stephen Layton. I had never heard Eric Whitacre before purchasing this disc, but I am a huge fan of Polyphony, which encouraged me to buy it, and I was NOT disappointed. Whitacre's music is sung superbly in this recording with Polyphony demonstrating their huge range of control and passion over the wide variety of Whitacre's music. From tumultuous crescendos and towering climaxes to earth-shatteringly quiet and mournful passages of despair, Polyphony seem to pull every trick out of the bag to ensure that this disc is one that every serious choral music enthusiast should own.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Whitacre February 18, 2006
Format:Audio CD
I suppose I'm somewhat biased towards Eric's music; he and I struck up a nice friendship in the mid 1990's when we were both living in Las Vegas. Back then, he was riding high from the success of "Cloudburst" for choir and percussion and "Ghost Train" for wind ensemble while finishing his undergraduate degree at UNLV, but since then he has refined his compositional technique and given us some real gems that are finding an enduring place in choral literature. Several university ensembles have produced satisfactory representations of his music, but these recordings have more or less been about the desire to flaunt both the blending of voices and the emotional content of particular moments. Other elements are ignored. Stephen Layton's superb professional ensemble Polyphony knows they can sing beautifully; they've been there and done that countless times since they were formed in 1986, so the focus of Cloudburst is similar to their other fantastic recordings of Britten, Rutter, Grainger, Tavener, Walton, and Lauridsen: phrasing and musicality. Layton infuses a momentum to Eric's music we have not yet heard, and after listening to "When David Heard" and "Water Night" countless times while adjudicating choral festivals, it's great to experience those compositions rendered with the holistic approach that is the hallmark of great English choral ensembles. Moreover, just like Eric, Layton is all about the poetry; delivering the glorious verses of Cummings, Dickenson, Waller, Paz, Lorca, and Eric's personal friend Charles Silvestri is clearly foremost in the conductor's mind, and the result is one of the most satisfactory choral CDs I've heard in quite a while.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising March 2, 2006
By Anon
Format:Audio CD
Some of the best choral singing I've ever heard - and I'm very choosy. Obviously people are comparing this with the BYU recording - in my mind Polyphony has produced an awesome, mature, professionally interpreted and stunningly sung disc, and nothing else comes remotely close. This will never be out of my CD player.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent CD, if Flawed June 22, 2006
Format:Audio CD
Inevitably, this albumn is going to be compared to the BYU album of Whitacre's music (which I love). Overall, I feel BYU album is significantly better. Some of Whitacre's pieces need a larger soundstage to gain the proper effect (Sleep and When David Heard, namely) and BYU's director Stehli really understands this and the tempos/phrasing that these pieces require. That being said, there are some pieces on this album that are performed I think better than BYU. Cloudburst is given a masterfull performance by Polyphany, the middle section actually sounds like a downpour and is more in spirit with the piece than the comparatively paltry sound effect treatment BYU gives the piece (albiet well sung). It is additionally helped by impeccable phrasing and the smaller ensemble gives the indiviual parts places to breathe and expand. The same might be said of I thank thee God for this most amazing day, a fabulous performance by Polyphany. The 3 note saprano soli in the middle of the piece is done very well and not muddled like on BYU's recording. Overall, this album has really grown on me with every listen and is definately worth the cost. It does give some fresh sound and sometimes better recordings of Eric Whitacre's beautiful music. Buy it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous voices!
This is an absolutely beautiful choral work. I frequently play it in my office while I'm working. It's both soaring and soothing.
Published 1 month ago by Seabrook
5.0 out of 5 stars Cloudburst is best thing on the CD
really fabulous, love this performance, wish the rest of his music were as compelling, but maybe just a bit too 'new-age'-ish
Published 3 months ago by Karmaya
5.0 out of 5 stars Wedding songs
I bought this CD because my church choir was singing the Marriage Song at the wedding of one of our members. There was no room for error as we were singing it a cappella. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Polly B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning
Huge Eric Whitacre fan. Didn't know what to expect from buying this, but all of the expectations that I might've had were exceeded. Every song is sung so carefully and beautifully. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Paden
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice and relaxing.
After about half an hour of this music, it seems like "same o - same o " . Not enough variety in the pieces. Otherwise, yes, it's nice. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Robert Emerson
5.0 out of 5 stars Primo brava
Rich, gorgeous music -- choir of angles. Listen to this all the time -- just takes your breath away and then some.
Published 7 months ago by justanothashmo
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Life
Eric Whitacre is one of the most fantastic, talented, choral composers in the history of music. His pieces are full of LIFE, love, passion, and they will move you in the core of... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Lauren Rochon
5.0 out of 5 stars Eric Whitacre Cloudburst
Yet another beautiful CD from Eric Whitacre. Besides the title track, my favorite pieces are Sleep, Water Night, A Boy and a Girl, and Lux Aurumque. Enjoy!
Published 14 months ago by Judith
3.0 out of 5 stars Love "Sleep" and was hoping for more like it
Have to say I am not a die hard fan of choral music, but had to have the cd with "Sleep" on it. Read more
Published 14 months ago by belinda smile
5.0 out of 5 stars Dense and beautiful
This is a spirit lifting listening experience. Beautiful harmonies! He clearly expresses the essence of the poetry through his harmonies and floating vocal lines. Read more
Published 17 months ago by JerseyGirl
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