State Choir Latvija: Credo

Record and Artist Details

Genre:

Vocal

Label: Hyperion

Media Format: CD or Download

Media Runtime: 56

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: CDA68426

CDA68426. State Choir Latvija: Credo

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
He wishes for the cloths of heaven Ambrož Čopi, Composer
Latvija State Choir
Maris Sirmais, Conductor
Credo; I believe Matej Kastelic, Composer
Latvija State Choir
Maris Sirmais, Conductor
Quatuor pour la fin du temps, 'Quartet for the End of Time', Movement: Louange á l'Éternité de Jésus Olivier Messiaen, Composer
Latvija State Choir
Maris Sirmais, Conductor
4 Songs of Love Sven-David Sandström, Composer
Latvija State Choir
Maris Sirmais, Conductor
(2) Gesänge, Movement: Der Abend (wds. Schiller) Richard Strauss, Composer
Latvija State Choir
Maris Sirmais, Conductor
Deutsche Motette Richard Strauss, Composer
Latvija State Choir
Maris Sirmais, Conductor

How the choral music of Richard Strauss, lifelong atheist, has ended up on an album called ‘Credo’, only Hyperion can explain. No matter: the performances are formidably assured, though not more so than the Latvian Radio Choir (different ensemble, and latest winner of the Gramophone Choral Award) on a Naïve album directed by Laurence Equilbey (3/10).

The generous acoustic of St John’s Church in Riga makes its own contribution to the recorded mix, requiring a boost in playback level to distinguish words and lines in Strauss’s 20-part polyphony. The soloists also sing with a vibrato wider than currently fashionable, but (fortunately) this does not affect the corporate tonal focus in Clytus Gottwald’s Messiaen transcription. In a booklet introduction, Māris Sirmais makes a contentious claim for it as ‘more splendid and interesting’ than the cello-and-piano original.

In the context of the album, at any rate, Messiaen’s sixth-saturated chords, doubled over as many as 19 parts, form an effective bridge between Strauss’s sensual operation of late-Romantic tonality and the cooler radiance given off by a trio of contemporary composers. Most distinctive of them is a Yeats setting by the Slovenian composer Ambrož Čopi, He wishes for the cloths of heaven. The text is again almost indistinguishable, but the glowing clouds of harmony will appeal to listeners with a sweet tooth for the likes of Lauridsen and Whitacre.

Another Slovene, Matej Kastelic (b1994), achieves a lot in five minutes with Credo/I believe: an interrogative setting of the Latin Creed, mostly in homophonic chant textures, with macaronic interpolations in English, challenging orthodoxy in the tradition of Bernstein’s Mass: ‘Who believes in salvation, judging, glorifying, rulers, kingdom?’ The piece would probably make a stronger impression live, with a more present sense of the textual conflict. As it is, the heterogeneous idioms of the album add up to a little less than the sum of their parts, however impressive the choral technique on show.

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