The Choral Project – One is the All: A Human Experience as Told Through Song – The Choral Project/Daniel Hughes, conductor – Clarion Records

by | Nov 27, 2006 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

The Choral Project – One is the All: A Human Experience as Told Through Song – The Choral Project/Daniel Hughes, conductor – Clarion Records 922, 72:00 *****:

Every once in awhile, I come upon a recording that reminds me of what great choral singing really is, and what adventurous programming by a thoughtful conductor can accomplish.  The Choral Project, a performing ensemble that began ten years ago in San José, California, has provided an extremely rewarding listening experience in this recording.  It is outstanding in every respect.  Daniel Hughes, the ensemble’s founder, artistic director, and conductor, has built a firm musical foundation that has led to musical success for this group.  (Since he got his training at San José State University as a singer and conductor under the tutelage of Dr. Charlene Archibeque, I would expect no less. The choral tone of this choir is definitely a result of that training.)  

The excellent blend within each section, with obvious attention to vowel formation and careful consonant application, encourages a unified sound overall.  The choral balance is achieved in a natural manner that highlights each section when necessary, and all sections when appropriate. The singers in this chorus have obviously been taught to sing with their hearts as well as their bodies and it shows. 

The group is very capable of different moods, tempos, and styles, as evidenced by the varied offerings on this recording.  The selection of pieces is not merely eclectic, but also wise and perfectly suited to the voices of this skilled ensemble. The music comes from many different countries and (mostly twentieth century) composers; and it forms a tantalizing mix of the familiar and new.  Stephen Schwartz, the award-winning Broadway composer and lyricist, composed the opening track, “Kéramos,” especially for this disc.  Schwartz used a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the text of this piece; and it surprised me in many ways.  I did not expect this style of choral composition from this composer and was drawn to how the music and the text unfolded and bloomed with grace.  The exquisite Charles Villiers Stanford composition, “The Bluebird,” was awarded the lovely singing it so richly deserved by this ensemble of fine singers and their conductor.  “Turn The World Around,” originally written by Harry Belafonte and Robert Freeman, was rhythmic and joyful.  The fine choral treatment of this piece is a credit to arranger Larry Farrow.  Each selection on this CD was a new chance to listen to extraordinary choral singing by gifted singers under the leadership of a conductor with an obvious artistic direction in mind.  “Ubi Caritas,” the last track on this disc, was a New Age surprise for me; but I really liked it – just listen and let the music surround you. 

One is the All is The Choral Project’s sixth recording.  I have only one question: how soon can I get the rest? 

Tracklist:  Kéramos, De Punta y Taco, Dieu! qu’il la fait bon regarder!, Quisiera, War Song, So we’ll go no more a-roving, Come to Me, My Love, The Bluebird, Fair & True, Turn the World Around, It Takes a Village, The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby, El Hambo, Famine Song, Let Evening Come, Musica animam tangens, Ubi Caritas 

– Ann Stahmer

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