Beyond All Mortal Dreams: American A Cappella

Beyond All Mortal Dreams: American A Cappella

by Trinity College Choir, Cambridge


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British conductor Stephen Layton is one of few European conductors to take an active interest in 20th and 21st century American choral music; he and the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, have already released three albums devoted to a cappella music by the two most prominent American choral composers of turn of the millennium, Morten Lauridsen and Eric Whitacre. This disc features the works of eight composers, seven from the U.S. and one from Canada. For the most part, these pieces are less distinctive than those by Lauridsen and Whitacre, who each have a clearly recognizable sound, and the idiom of most of these pieces tends to be more conservative than theirs. Canadian Healey Willan, writing in the first decades of the 20th century, is strongly reminiscent of (if not indistinguishable from) British composers like Parry and Stanford. Stephen Paulus, writing three quarters of a century later, uses an unruffled euphonious tonal vocabulary not far removed from Willan's, but his three works included here have an attractive, characteristic American sound. The most adventurous works, by Steven Stucky and Frank Ferko, use a broader harmonic palette and they employ a more inventive exploration of choral techniques. Even so, they fall comfortably into a lyrical, lushly neo-Romantic style that's likely to appeal to broad audiences. In addition to the works by Stucky and Ferko, two of the most striking pieces are by the youngest composer, Ola Gjeilo, born in 1978, whose "Sanctus" is radiantly ecstatic. The performances are above reproach, and it's hard to imagine their being bettered. The choir sings with gorgeous warmth and blend, and Layton brings exceptionally nuanced understanding to this music. Like his three previous releases of American music, Beyond All Mortal Dreams is a standout in a crowded field of recordings and should be of strong interest to fans of new choral music. Hyperion's sound is impeccable.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/12/2011
Label: Hyperion Uk
UPC: 0034571178325
catalogNumber: 67832
Rank: 265608


  1. Phoenix, for chorus
  2. To Be Certain of the Dawn, for chorus & orchestra: Hymn to the Eternal Flame
  3. Hildegard Triptych, for chorus
  4. Sanctus, for chorus
  5. Motets (3) in memoriam Thomas Tallis, for chorus

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