Ulrich Zeitler: Veni Sancte Spiritus – Ensemble 333 – MDG

by | Aug 28, 2018 | Classical CD Reviews

Ulrich Zeitler: Veni Sancte Spiritus – Ensemble 333, Catalogue No: MDG9022045 – Label: MDG – 5.1 channel SACD TT: 71:00 (8/17/18) ****:

To me, there is nothing more stirring than hearing a chorus singing sacred music. A case in point is this wonderful offering on the MDG label, in glorious surround sound in the SACD format.

The music here is contemporary, rather than traditional hymns. The composer is Ulrich Zeitler. (b) 1967,  who has written some dramatic choral music in a most non-traditional manner, often mixing, subtle references to jazz in his compositions.

This recording and performance is quite absorbing, as Zeitler interrelates the traditional Pentecost sequence Veni Sancte Spiritus and Veni Creator Spiritus, a much older hymn by Rabanus Maurus, and his modern musical language incorporating jazz elements produces an up-to-date profession of faith, with his highly versatile ensemble also contributing significantly to its special appeal.

Zeitler’s Ensemble 333 is both a choir and a pool of soloists. Teaming up with five instrumentalists, they produce the countless sound combinations on which the composer draws.

Zeitler has scored his work for twelve solo parts and a choir of up to twenty voices. The contralto clarinet supplies a firm tonal foundation and with it the point of departure for a series of original improvisations.

This disc is a great experience on SACD, giving the listener an ‘in the room’ type of sound. voices and instruments are nicely spread between the front speakers, and the surrounds give us the sound of the recording location which was a large church. You can, of courze, listen to the stereo layer on the disc, but the sound loses its drama and immediacy.

Zeitler is not well known but he is certain to gather increasing acclaim for the depth and skill of his compositions.

Highly recommended for a musical and audio experience

—Mel Martin

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