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Cat. No. CHSA 5105 Price: 11.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHSA 5105 - Clausen: Choral Works
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Available From: 15 May 2012

Chandos CHAN 5105

René Clausen: Choral works – Kansas City Chorale, Charles Bruffy

Although he writes in all genres, René Clausen is today one of America’s most popular choral composers, and for more than twenty-five years he has been the conductor of the internationally acclaimed Concordia Choir of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. On this release, several of his choral works are performed by the Kansas City Chorale, another choir of great international renown, whose recording, with the Phoenix Chorale, of Grechaninov’s Passion Week scooped a Grammy® award in 2008, in the category Best Classical Recording, Engineering. ‘Set me as a seal’ is arguably the composer’s best-known work, long popular at weddings, funerals, and in the concert repertoire. Clausen has described the work as ‘various kinds of discussions between God and humans, both from the human aspect and from the God aspect, so a lot of variations… of love, of disappointment, of anxiety, of doubt’. The composer was moved to learn that the work was chosen for the memorial service held after ValuJet 592 crashed in the Everglades in 1996. All that hath life and breath, praise ye the Lord is one of Clausen’s earliest works, a favourite of choirs across the world. It was one of only three choral works performed in the 2008 Presidential Office Year-End Concert of Compassion held by the Republic of China (Taiwan), with the theme ‘Music brings warmth – Songs spread feeling’. The Mass for Double Choir was commissioned by the Kansas City and Phoenix Chorales. The composer, who had never written a mass before, looked on it as an ‘interesting challenge’. In the work emotions ebb and flow kaleidoscopically, taking the listener from the strength of the unison writing at the opening, to the sorrowful falling lines of the Crucifixion of Christ and the bubbling, dancing figures for the Resurrection. Expressions of praise spill forward atop one another in the Sanctus, a choir of angels too exuberant to be contained. In contrast, Prayer sets Mother Teresa’s gentle words with long arching phrases and gentle dissonances.

Reviews

        Awarded Best Choral & Best Engineered album
 55th Grammy Awards - 2013

 “This delightful, deeply moving, and sonically stunning survey of René Clausen’s choral music simply won’t let go of me.... Every work here is a rare treat ... you simply won’t believe the supreme quality of their work until you’ve experienced it for yourself. The incredibly rich and detailed Super-Audio sound will astound you (even in standard stereo mode); the booklet is detailed, informative, and complete. Above all, here is a composer that every contemporary choral buff needs to know.”
Lindsay Koob – American Record Guide – November/December 2012

 “... Tuning is impeccable, and blend is faultless... Diction is clear and tone varies easily by mood, though projection is slightly restrained, as is Bruff’s way. The sound and artistry are exemplary. Many a soprano section I’ve heard on disc lately  could take a lesson from this choir’s superb singers on how to negotiate leaping high notes. Chandos engineers have provided just enough distance and resonance to support blend while maintaining clarity, and in surround the choir is placed out in believable space. To anyone who enjoys beautifully crafted, thought-provoking but accessible choral music, this release is most highly recommended.”
Ronald E Grames – Fanfare – November/December 2012

"Miking is full and clear ... A precise and expressive interpretation of the Kansas City choir directed by Charles Bruffy makes this recording a very nice record..."
Michaël Sebaoun - Classica magazine - October 2012

“ ‘Life and Breath’ has a pleasing choice of liturgical and sacred texts, and René Clausen’s word-setting is always appropriate and approachable to listeners... bright , youthful, polished singing, giving Clausen’s music fine advocacy. It’s also good to listen to new, fresh settings of words that are well known through other composer’s work ... his [Clausen] choral works deserve wider international recognition and would be worthy additions to the choral repertoire.”
Christopher Nickol – Gramophone magazine – September 2012

"KC Chorale’s recording of the composer’s ‘Life and Breath’ is a high-tech wonder... “Life and Breath” is a collection of sumptuous choral works by American composer René Clausen and is yet another testament to why the Kansas City Chorale is one of the finest choral ensembles in the world... mostly this is a CD that will appeal to the choral connoisseur and to those who simply want to be swept away on a cloud of glorious music. And swept away you will be, especially if you have a Super Audio surround sound system... for this release, Chandos’ engineers have outdone themselves to provide an ecstatic experience...it’s refreshing to hear the heartfelt, optimistic music of Clausen. It’s exalting and joyful, and as welcome as a cool gust of air on a stifling, oppressive summer afternoon."

Patrick Neas - KansasCity.com - 27 July 2012

"Rene Clausen is the longtime conductor of the Concordia Choir at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and one of the most beloved choral composers in the United States and worldwide... Clausen’s music is freewheeling, tonal, slightly eclectic, and beautifully wedded to the texts he chooses, more often than not religious in nature yet devoid of any sort of overt-sugary sentimentality. His melodies are exceptionally expressive while his harmonies perfectly support the communicative abilities of his intentions.This well-selected collection highlights his career from early to more recent ... Bruffy’s forces are in top notch condition while Chandos’s capturing of the ambience at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Kansas City translates into truly superb surround sound, from the mellow pianissimos to the forceful fortes, spread to perfection among all the speakers. A record to cherish."  *****

Steven Ritter - Audiophile Audition.com - 28 July 2012

“...Life and Breath is another in a string of great Kansas City Chorale recordings for Chandos. The Kansas City Chorale is a marvellously responsive choir who communicate all the subtle nuances that makes Clausen’s music so special. They sing with tonal purity, beautiful blend and plenty of character. Chandos’s audio quality is worthy of such fine performances and captures the Chorale with a natural, warm sound.”
Craig Zeichner – Ariama.com – 9 July 2012

“...This music is highly attractive, and often much more than that. It is fabulously well sung by a choir totally at home in the style... The recording is well up to the standards of the house.”
William Hedley – International Record Review – July/August 2012 

"...The singing of the Kansas City Chorale is absolutely first class. They are a cultured ensemble and they produce an excellent sound. Evidently they’ve been scrupulously prepared by Charles Bruffy and their control, unanimity and use of dynamics are all exemplary.I’ve been most impressed by my first encounter with the music of René Clausen. His music is beautifully crafted and it is very evident that the words he is setting matter a great deal to him. I’m sure the music is challenging to perform - and certainly to perform as well as is here the case - but it has been superbly served by Charles Bruffy and his flawless choir. The performances are enhanced by an excellent recording - I listened to this SACD in CD format."
 
John Quinn - Musicweb-international.com - 2 July 2012

“...this is a superb disc... The church location provides both a perfect ambience and atmosphere for this sequence of sacred settings. The choir is positioned perfectly in the acoustic benefitting from its warmth without any loss of detail or impact. Although I have no other performances against which I can make comparisons, Charles Bruffy’s interpretations feel instinctively right... At the end of a long frustrating day this would be a disc to offer balm and great beauty in equal measure.”
Nick Barnard – musicweb-international.com  - 26 June 2012

 

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