Coming from the Atlanta area, I have a great deal of pride in our symphony orchestra and chorus; the late maestro Robert Shaw worked tirelessly to forge world-class ensembles in the ASO and its choruses. This is the first disc of works by the unaccompanied Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus along with director Norman Mackenzie, and it is a triumphant success on every level. The chosen works, with the exception of the Tallis piece, are masterworks of twentieth century choral composition, and are showcased in this stunning new multichannel SACD from Telarc.
The disc’s centerpiece is the eternally elegant Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor; the singing of the ASO Chamber Chorus is beyond reproach here, achieving truly blissful beauty. The VW mass is bracketed by equally well-known works from Messiaen and Durufle. A really pleasant surprise for me is Tavener’s Song for Athene; for me, his works tend to drone on and on a bit, but the chorus here walks a fine line between the mystical and the bombastic – sonically, this work is stunning and its climax will push your system acoustically to its limits. All of my listening was done utilizing the multichannel layer; with surround sound this superb, why even bother with two channels?
This disc courtesy of Telarc is firmly on my years’ best of list already; the music is equally serene and impressively powerful, and the recording is to die for. Five stars – very highly recommended!
— Tom Gibbs