by Constance Tucker
The Chamber Choir of Europe is comprised of professional singers throughout the continent who are embarking on a solo career or are established members of national and international radio choirs, and who meet regularly for a concentrated series of rehearsals and concerts, including festivals. The Chamber Choir of Europe has been described by Bobby McFerrin as “a perfect voice orchestra.” Their latest endeavor is the choral music of Morten Lauridsen.
“Lauridsen: Lux aeterna – 1. Introitus” opens the album. Beginning with the melody growing from the lower strings, moving upward against sustained chords, until the full orchestra blossoms and unfolds to a delicate entrance of the Chamber Choir of Europe’s subtle entrance. The harmony is perfectly balanced, with each chord tone living in tune and volume with the others. As the parts start to unfold, the counterpoint within the Chamber Choir and moving inner voices move the harmonic language of Lauridsen’s composition to an emotional clarity. His balance of register, line and harmonic relations are that of a true master. Midway through, the orchestra and choir meld their colors to build the sound and impact. Lauridsen’s harmonic tension and release is effectively stirring. The fact that Lauridsen worked with conductor Micol Matt and played piano, makes the phrasing and stylings even more personal and uniquely pure to Lauridsen’s compositional style and intent.
The high art of composition and the realization of that composition by an orchestra and chamber choir that all act as one is a rare and magical experience. It happened on this recording and a fine example is “Lauridsen: Les Chansons des Roses – 5. Dirait-on.” Starting with the Chamber Choir and Lauridsen on piano. The first theme is presented by the female voices and then followed by the males. The richness and blending create one unified sound that happens when the two voices join, the supremacy is stunning. The contrapuntal clarity is beautifully executed. The breaths between the phrasing is natural. Even though there is a lot of texture and movement in the voices and piano, everything is in balance and easily absorbed by the listener. Simple gorgeous, especially the last fifty seconds.
“Lauridsen: O magnum mysterium” is the Chamber Choir of Europe singing Lauridsen’s powerful composition without the orchestra or piano. Here the balance of color and textures is splendid. The chords buzz, the rubs of the seconds resolving are in tune and powerful. The vocal sound combines to create a powerful living texture that is unique to world class chamber choirs and Chamber Choir of Europe nails it on this one. Lauridsen’s music is romantic, cinematic and enlightening all at once and the choir conveys that message perfectly. A welcomed addition to any collection.