Eternal Rest - Martin, Etc / Bruffy, Phoenix Bach Choir

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This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi (b. 1963) writes some of today's more innovative choral music. It's not only creatively interesting but it also maintains the qualities of tonal/harmonic accessibility and text-centered immediacy that allows it to register with a broad spectrum of listeners. His collections of Shakespeare Songs, More Shakespeare Songs, and No More Shakespeare Songs? show a composer at once in love with his subject and fully in tune with his audience--and one clearly in possession of a sense of humor!

On this recording we hear a profoundly serious work, in memory of the victims of a terrible Baltic Sea tragedy in September, 1994, in which the luxury ferry Estonia sank in a storm, killing 852 passengers. Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae incorporates elements of Psalm 107 ("They that go down to the sea in ships...") with news accounts of the disaster (taken from a Latin-language Finnish radio broadcast), employing dramatic, rich-textured choral utterances (including the whispered prayers of the opening and closing bars) along with chant-inspired passages and an occasional folk-song-like melody, all of which culminates in an extended passage of beautiful and often surprising harmonies, ideally defining the text at the end of the Psalm: "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still..." This is a moving and memorable work, one that these choirs perform with care and confidence under Charles Bruffy's artful direction.

After this solid performance, it's puzzling why Bruffy's rendition of Frank Ticheli's setting of Sara Teasdale's poem There will be rest is so dreadfully slow (completely ignoring the composer's clear markings), a strange deconstruction that robs this gorgeous and well-loved piece of its essential harmonic flow and structural coherence. Oh well, these world-class singers follow their conductor easily, unfazed by the exceptional demands of breath control and balance this pace requires--but still, what's the musical point?

Frank Martin's Mass for double choir has been recorded many times--and mostly very well--and this is another fine rendition of a work that seems to register its "classic" credentials more impressively every time you hear it. René Clausen's In pace, cut from the same vibrant-colored harmonic cloth as the Ticheli, is another work that deserves repertoire status, and again, Bruffy's singers perfectly capture its nuances of texture and dynamics and give full measure to the big sonorities. The complementary acoustics of Camelback Bible Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona, expertly recorded for this hybrid SACD, complete a program that should have strong appeal to all choral music fans.

--David Vernier,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: CHSA 5045

  • UPC: 095115504529

  • Label: Chandos

  • Composer: Frank Martin, Frank Ticheli, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, René Clausen

  • Conductor: Charles Bruffy

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Kansas City Chorale, Phoenix Bach Choir

  • Performer: Bryan Taylor, Kira Z. Rugen