MICHAEL DENHOFF: “Credo” = Liturgical works performed by Cologne & Aachen players & choir on Cybele multichannel SACD

by | Jun 24, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

MICHAEL DENHOFF: “Credo” = In unum Deum for soprano, baritone,
choir, organ, and small orchestra, opus 93; Credo for mixed choir, opus
93a; Aus tiefer Not – invocation for organ, Op. 41 – Irene Kurka,
soprano/ Alban Lenzen, baritone/ Orchestra of the Cologne Chamber
Players/ Chamber Choir of the St. Gregory Catholic High School for
Church Music, Aachen/Steffen Schreyer director/Johannes Trümpler, organ
– Multichannel SACD on Cybele multichannel, Cybele 860.301, 63:35 ****:

The Nicene Creed, established in the 5th century CE, is a fundamental
statement of Christian theology. It begins “I believe in one God, the
Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible
and invisible.”
In 2000, the Forum on Music and the Church commissioned composer
Michael Denhoff to create a composition based on the Nicene Creed. The
Forum wanted someone “who could express today’s difficulties and
reservations in relation to the ancient concepts in musical language.”
Whether Denhoff has achieved this, I don’t know, as I find the Nicene
Creed easy to understand, though I’m not particularly religious. But
“In unum deum”, opus 93, is an engaging work that held my interest over
repeated hearings.

The recording makes good use of full surround sound. The piece begins
with solo voices, representing the congregation, speaking the views of
God and His relation to man, as expressed by ten philosophers and
writers (though in performance they may be replaced by individual
professions of faith). These appear around the listener, at varying
directions and distances, as though you and they were present in a huge
space, such as a cathedral. The singers gradually move to their
“assigned” places, and in the following eleven passages they vocalize
the sections of the creed with further philosophical and metaphysical
ruminations.

Denhoff gave the Forum more than it requested by setting the Nicene
Creed itself in an a cappella companion work, opus 93a. Denhoff’s style
is difficult to describe. Pärt and Ligeti come to mind, but there are
moments of Copland and Holst (probably coincidental). Traditional chant
is mixed with repetitive instrumental themes.

If  modern sacred music appeals to you, you will almost certainly find this a rewarding album. Recommended.

– William Sommerwerck

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