“Transmigration” = JOHN ADAMS: On the Transmigration of Souls; BARBER: Adagio for String; Agnus Dei; JOHN CORIGLIANO: Elegy; JENNIFER HIGDON: Dooryard Bloom – Nmon Ford, baritone (Higdon)/ Gwinnett Young Singers/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Choruses/Robert Spano – Telarc multichannel SACD-60673, 1.2 hours *****:
This is a heartfelt and very beautiful collection of modern composers remembering our heroes, both personal and universal, in a collection of funeral hymns and requiems. The album title comes from John Adams’ work for orchestra, chorus, children’s choir and prerecorded sounds, which was a commission from the New York Philharmonic for a 9/11 commemorative piece. It concentrates on the memories of the victims and the sense of loss for those left behind. The generally gentle work, On the Transmigration of Souls, employs words sung by the choirs plus a recorded soundscape that comes from randomly chosen names of some of the victims, quotations from missing-person signs posted by friends and families following the tragedy, and excerpts from personal reminiscences published in The New York Times.
Jennifer Hignon’s Dooryard Bloom is for baritone and orchestra and the longest work on the disc. It is a setting of Walt Whitman’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, and eulogized the slain Abraham Lincoln. Lilacs were just coming into bloom when the president died. Barber’s Adagio for Strings, taken from his First String Quartet, was his first work to reach a wide audience. Since it was used with the radio announcement of the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945, it has become a first choice for music to express grief at the death of great public figures. The closing Agnus Dei is a reworking of the Adagio into a vocal work for unaccompanied chamber choir. The skilled Atlanta players plus Telarc’s superb and wide range hi-res surround reproduction makes the listener’s immersion in all these works a most moving experience.
– John Sunier