Music in the Listening Place
From the first bars of Daniel Read’s resplendently glorious Windham to the finale, David Dickau’s gently intoxicated If music be the food of love, the Vanderbilt Chorale launch into each track with the earnest passion that only university music students can innocently and genuinely provide. Led by longtime music director Tucker Biddlecombe, the Chorale shine in a variety of repertoire that suggests the experience of hearing an actual concert, though they were recorded last year over six days in April and September.
The sheer professionalism of the results in the larger sets like Eric Whitacre’s Three Songs of Faith and Michael Slayton’s Three Settings of Ezra Pound – where the singers deal so well with the demands of layerings, shadings, colour and intonation – nevertheless comes with a certain sameness at times. They seem more personally involved with Jonathan Dove’s substantial The Passing of the Year, a moving reflection on life in memory of the composer’s mother, ‘who died too young’.
It is Ravel’s Trois Chansons that unexpectedly steal the show. The Chorale get the sophisticated sound of the French just right, singing the words as if they were poetry; in ‘Trois beaux oiseaux du paradis’ the soprano Lauren Urquhart sings her solo with celestial beauty. And even though they flirt with rough going early on in ‘Ronde’, the Chorale end up quite deliciously.
The Chorale seem equally at home in smaller pieces by Alf Houkum and Eliza Gilkyson (an exquisitely brief Requiem), and a traditional song in the IsiXhosa click language.