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Classical

Eric Whitacre

Choral Works: Volume One – A Cappella Works (1991-2001)

Brigham Young University Singers

[BYU]

4 stars

Choral Works: Volume Two – with Instrumental Accompaniment (1992-2002)

BYU Singers, Concert Choir, Women’s Chorus and Musicians

[BYU]

4 stars

The texts are by an aristocracy of poets as might be apprehended by a smart 21st century composer – poets as varied as Octavio Paz, Rumi, James Joyce, E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Edmund Waller, Federico Garcia Lorca and the Bible’s second Book of Samuel. But the choral music is from a precinct of heaven on earth.

Eric Whitacre is 44 years old. His biographical history is emblematic – early rock band, Juilliard studies with David Diamond, etc. The music that has resulted (his version of Edmund Waller’s “Go Lovely Rose” was written when he was 21) is of such pitiless diatonic consonance that it has not only become immensely popular in its milieu but it has give musical popularity as good a name as it is every likely to achieve.

What has happened in the past 30 years of classical composition – and what these recordings epitomize – is that the yearnings and daily ruminations of the human spirit have been leading composers to universal places formerly abandoned for the sake of music’s historic development. Of all the esthetic operations that resulted from post-modernism, few would have been as unexpected 70 years ago as music like this.

These recordings from Brigham Young University are magnificently remastered versions of the originals which came out in 2001 (Vol. 1) and 2008 (Vol. 2)

Notes are minimal but at least the texts of the poetry are here.

– Jeff Simon