JENKINS: Cantata Memoria – For the Children – Bryn Terfel, bass-bar./ Elin Manahan Thomas, sop./ Cywair and CF1 Chorus/ Sinfonia Cymru/ Karl Jenkins – DGG

JENKINS: Cantata Memoria – For the Children (In Memory of Aberfan 1966) Bryn Terfel, bass-bar./ Elin Manahan Thomas, sop./ Cywair and CF1 Chorus/ Sinfonia Cymru/ Karl Jenkins – DGG 4796486, 56:00 (10/7/16) ****:

A magnificent cantata that will leave the listener moved.

This piece was written to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the disaster on October  21,1966 when a coal spoil tip enveloped a school and houses in the South Wales village of Aberfan, killing 116 children and 28 adults. Cantata Memoria bears the subtitle For the Children and, as well as remembering the tragic Welsh catastrophe and its aftermath, mourns the loss of children in universal terms, as witnessed in the Dunblane shooting (1996), the Beslan school siege (2004), the Korean ferry disaster (2014) and the Peshawar School massacre (2014).

Cantata Memoria is scored for chorus – both mixed and young voices,  baritone and soprano vocalists, orchestra with prominent solos for violin, euphonium and harp, and sets a libretto by poet Mererid Hopwood. The work is sung in English, Welsh and Latin.

This is a magnificent and moving work. Beautiful, yet horrific in its rendering of this tragedy. The soloists, orchestra, and the conducting by Jenkins are all first rate. If you are familiar with Jenkins other works, you’ll hear the same DNA. I consider Jenkins to be a tremendously gifted composer. His Adiemus has been performed all over the world to much deserved acclaim.

This stereo CD sounds very good, but I was disappointed there is no multi-channel release. There are some high resolution downloads (96/24, only stereo) at the usual outlets. The strings and massed voices are very natural. There is plenty of low bass, and the sound never becomes congested during the highly dynamic parts of this work when the orchestra, chorus and soloists are together. The stereo image is very stable, and the soloists are placed realistically between my stereo speakers.

Cantata Memoria is a major work, and deserving of your musical attention. The performance and recording are both of high quality. I long only for a multi-channel version. Wake up DGG! Highly recommended!

—Mel Martin

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