Eric Whitacre: Light and Gold – Eric Whitacre Singers/ Laudibus/ The King’s Singers/ Pavao Quartet/ Hila Plitman, spoken Hebrew/ Christopher Glynn, p.– Decca

by | Mar 16, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

Eric Whitacre: Light and Gold – Eric Whitacre Singers/ Laudibus/ The King’s Singers/ Pavao Quartet/ Hila Plitman, spoken Hebrew/ Christopher Glynn, piano [TrackList below] – Decca 4850, 71:16 *****:

Decca is pulling out all the stops with this new release of the music of choral phenom Eric Whitacre, who has just signed a new extended contract with the company. They have certainly not short-changed us here, with this well-filled program sumptuously recorded at St. Silas Church in London. This is the first time Whitacre has conducted his music on record to my knowledge, and he says that he is hearing his music finally as he has envisioned it, using his own hand-picked and namesake choir that he has an obvious rapport with, as demonstrated by the video available on YouTube.
Whitacre has become somewhat of a cult figure. His “Virtual Choir” project on YouTube, where he “conducts” a couple of hundred people who sent in their own home-recorded parts to Lux Aurumque where they were then mixed and put together for an incredible video presentation, has had over two million hits, and at one point was up to 30 to 40 thousand hits per day. Critically there has been mixed reaction to his music. Whitacre goes his own way—he knows what he likes and specifically why he likes it, is as enthusiastic as any composer I have ever heard, and completely sincere and unaffected in his apology. You cannot help believing him when he shares his love of music.
And what of the music? Well, if Arvo Part had never lived I doubt we would be hearing the likes of Whitacre. Stylistically they are different, but it was Part who paved the way for this sort of meditative, often static music. But Whitacre is much more than that. He uses flat out diatonic song-like melody in a way Part never would consider. I think this is because Whitacre has not divorced himself from popular culture, and freely absorbs whatever he feels he needs from the idiom. His music is closely-scored harmony-wise, and he loves the sound of tight vibrant dissonances in the context of an overall clustered choral sound, often reveling in the sound for its own sake, but never once losing track of the over-arching scheme of the composition. He has launched his career as maybe the most popular exponent of choral music alive today, and at 41 years of age seems to have a long time on front of him. There is nothing on this disc that is anything less that engrossing, and I think most people who are willing to accept it on its own terms will find a lot to enjoy here. Highly recommended.

1. Lux Aurumque
2. Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine
3. Water Night
4. Temuna (Five Hebrew Love Songs)
5. Kala Kalla (Five Hebrew Love Songs)
6. Larov (Five Hebrew Love Songs)
7. Eyze Sheleg! (Five Hebrew Love Songs)
8. Rakut (Five Hebrew Love Songs)
9. Nox Aurumque
10. The Stolen Child
11. A Boy and a Girl
12. i will wade out (Three Songs of Faith)
13. hope faith life love (Three Songs of Faith)
14. i thank You God for most this amazing day (Three Songs of Faith)
15. Sleep
— Steven Ritter

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