Angel: Sacred Anthems for Treble Voices = Saint Ignatius Loyola Children’s Choir/ Mary Huff, dir./ Nancianne Parrella, organ/ Michael Sheetz, p. – MSR Classics MS1399, 61:03 [Distr. by Albany] ***1/2:
Cool of the Day: A Cappella Gems through the Centuries = Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola/ Kent Trittle, Robert Reuter, dirs. – MSR Classics MS1374, 77:48 [Distr. by Albany] ****:
Both of these discs were recorded at the same place, the church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City. The adult choir, one of the finest professional/amateur groups in the country (amateur because they are a church choir that sings the majority of the services offered there, and professional because the individuals are all soloists and professional singers in their own right) has long been known for breadth of repertory and high craftsmanship. The children’s choir, emerging from four graded choirs at the parish school, is one of the oldest of its type in the country stretching back into the 1920s, though it was silent during the 1990s and reemerged in the 2000s, obviously with no loss of historical quality. The program that the kids offer here takes only a few excursions into the nineteenth century, its main fare coming from the last 100 years. The program is exceptional in its performance quality, with all selections very worthy—even essential—items in the sacred or nearly-sacred repertory. The children manage it all very well, though it must be admitted that the sameness of the treble voices can be tiring, so you might want to sample first. I have deducted half a star because the sound is really far too possessive of echo, making for a needless distraction, probably because, unlike the adult choir disc, it was recorded sans audience, whereas the latter was done “live”.
Cool of the Day, listed as “Volume IX” in the “Music from St. Ignatius Loyola” series, is a real gem. Again, tangentially touching on religious themes in each case, the span of works ranges from Gregorian chant to Eric Whitacre, Pablo Casals to Richard Strauss, whose German Motet is one of the wonders of the choral literature, and should be heard by anyone who doesn’t know it. The choir is able to turn on a dime in the variety, often extreme variety, of the music offered here, and its emotional commitment never flags no matter what piece it is singing. I was really enraptured through this whole recital, and for those who like spiritually oriented music this is heaven indeed. All others might just find themselves converting, so be careful. Bravo to all concerned.
“Angel” TrackList:1. Paul Halley: How Can I Keep From Singing? 2. Paul Halley: Lord Of All Hopefulness 3. Malcolm Archer: When I Survey The Wondrous Cross 4. Malcolm Archer: We Cannot Measure 5. Malcolm Archer: The Lord s My Shepherd 6. Benjamin Britten: The New Year Carol 7. Benjamin Britten: The Birds 8. Aaron Copland: Zion s Walls 9. Aaron Copland: At The River 10. Aaron Copland: Simple Gifts 11. Aaron Copland: Ching-A-Ring Chaw 12. Peter Aston: I Give You A New Commandment 13. Stephen Paulus: Hear My Words 14. James Biery: O Come, Divine Messiah 15. Peter Hurford: Litany To The Holy Spirit 16. Eleanor Daley: Canticle To The Spirit 17. Ruth Watson Henderson: Bless The Lord, O My Soul 18. César Franck: Panis Angelicus 19. Charles Gounod: Regina Coeli 20. Gabriel Fauré: Ave Verum Corpus
“Cool” TrackList:1. Traditional: Wondrous Love 2. Traditional: Hark, I Hear The Harps Eternal 3. Anton Bruckner: Os Justi 4. Gregorian Chant: Memento Nostri, Domine 5. Otto Nicolai: Pater Noster 6. Pablo Casals: O Vos Omnes 7. Antonio Lotti: Crucifixus 8. Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina: Surge, Illuminare Jerusalem 9. Gregorian Chant: Vocem Iucunditatis Annuntiate 10. Johannes Somary: I Lift Up My Eyes 11. David Hill: Dominus Illuminatio 12. David C. Dickau: O Nata Lux 13. Eric Whitacre: Hope, Faith, Life, Love 14. Eric Whitacre: I Thank You God For Most This Amazing Day 15. Richard Strauss: Deutsche Motette 16. Jean Ritchie: Now Is The Cool Of The Day 17. Spiritual: Ain a That Good News 18. Spiritual: Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child 19. William L. Dawson: Soon Ah Will Be Done
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