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Track(s) taken from CDA67580

I will lift up mine eyes

author of text
Psalm 121

Polyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Recording details: January 2006
Temple Church, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: January 2007
Total duration: 3 minutes 14 seconds


'Lauridsen's Mid-Winter Songs unfolds as an astutely constructed choral symphony, with bouncy asymmetrical rhythms and lusty choral writing leading to a meditative fadeout. Les chanson des roses is a polyphonic delight that strategically delays the entry of the piano until the very end. Lively, confident performances' (Choir & Organ)

'What more can one say of the singing other than that it is Polyphony? This ensemble—surely one of the best small choirs now before the public—invests everything it sings with insight, crisp ensemble and tonal warmth' (The Daily Telegraph)

'This is a spectacular cycle, graced by some sensational singing' (International Record Review)

'This second, secular anthology is, if anything finer than its predecessor, elevated by the heavenly work of all concerned with its making, and the compelling eloquence of Lauridsen's sublime music … Polyphony’s love for words and music register with unwavering conviction … Stephen Layton's grasp of the polished idiom and his innate musicianship crown this essential release, which under his direction speaks directly to the heart' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Stephen Layton's splendiferous disc—the second of Lauridsen's music by these performers—should be on the shelf of each and every choral-music aficionado' (Fanfare, USA)

'This recording is a fine example of Polyphony's exquisite range and Stephen Layton's still in maintaining the balance between voices and ensemble' (HMV Choice)

'A disc that is filled with lovely music. Performances are excellent. Anyone who is interested in the best of choral music of our time will treasure this disc' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'This is a superb issue, with the engineers capturing the full sonority of the choir, orchestra and soloists to perfection and with diction being as clear as crystal throughout' (MusicWeb International)

'This is celestial and spine-tingling stuff. Contemporary choral music really doesn't come any better than this' (Daily Express)

'There could be few choirs better equipped than Polyphony to bring his music to life, with their pure sound and lively musicianship … the recent Ave, dulcissima Maria is for a capella male chorus and searingly beautiful. The final Nocturnes is a triptych of settings of Rilke, Pablo Neruda and James Agee … all three brimful of the exquisite beauty that is Lauridsen's special possession' (Manchester Evening News)

'This is great stuff, and it's given its best imaginable realization by Stephen Layton and his crack vocal ensemble Polyphony … the sound, recorded in two different London churches in 2006, has a pleasing resonance that preserves the essential detail among the voices while offering proper balance with the instruments. For choral—and especially Lauridsen—fans, neglecting this disc is not an option' (Classics Today)

'It is no surprise to learn of the composer’s devotion to music of both the Medieval and Renaissance periods; his command of the (at times) very complicated polyphonic textures is second-to-none as is the creation of the seemingly never-ending melodic lines … if this isn't a masterpiece of late-twentieth-century choral-writing I don't know what is! From a choir as good as Polyphony (and wow, is it good in this piece!) everything falls perfectly into place—fervent, passionate singing of fervent, passionate music, superb diction, perfectly judged climaxes and a range of colours that stands as an example of how choral music should be sung!' (Classical Source)

'I hold these truths to be self-evident: 1) Rainer Maria Rilke was a genius. 2) Morten Lauridsen is a genius. 3) Lauridsen’s a cappella setting of Rilke’s Contre qui, rose is one of the most singularly beautiful pieces of vocal music in the history of Western Civilization. 4) Polyphony’s new Hyperion recording of Contre qui, rose is a Record To Die For. (The rest of the disc isn’t too shabby, either' (Stereophile)

'Morten Lauridsen (b1943 is at present considered to be the brightest star in the American choral firmament and rightly so. He is a perfectionist who commands an outstanding technique, and is able to create elegantly-finished works of art that radiate with the glow of what is truly right and inevitable. The composer's craftsmanship further leads to an amazing balance between the contemporary and the timeless. Doubtless this disc also attests to Lauridsen's superb ability to write for choral voices while creating those atmospheric sounds which bring a feeling of inner peace to even the most unwilling ear. In this recording, the composer uses predominantly secular texts, emphasising most strongly his passionate devotion to poetry and the performances are no less riveting. Stephen Layton marshals his choral and orchestral forces to telling effect and both singers and players display that austere discipline which is so vital to produce a blended and cohesive sound and do justice to Lauridsen's harmonic language. Sound, presentation and annotations are as usual, of the highest standards' (Classical.net)

'This sumptuous CD by the English vocal ensemble Polyphony, under the direction of Stephen Layton. Their glorious sound and subtle interpretations do complete justice to Lauridsen's scores, including the Mid-Winter Songs, Les chansons des roses and the brand-new, rapturous Nocturnes, of which this disc is the premiere recording. The Polyphony performances make it clear why Lauridsen is today's preeminent choral composer; you'll hear every nuance of voicing and harmony, enveloped by a choral sound that is shaped by a masterly hand, with quicksilver changes and contrasts. The Britten Sinfonia is featured in the Mid-Winter Songs; the other works are a cappella, sung here at a standard against which all subsequent choral recordings should be judged' (The Seattle Times, USA)

'Nocturnes creates a complex and strange beauty that doesn't sound like any other composer. Yet for all its musical intricacy, the work has a direct and powerful emotional impact—not the impact of a scream, but of an intimate whisper that cuts right through you. Listening to these pieces repeatedly, I find my tough, old heart filled with both wonder and gratitude' (The Slate, USA)

'You know something's up when two of the highest-profile and most honored American composers of serious choral music keep getting onto planes and heading to England to have their work recorded' (CNN)
The three choral pieces using sacred texts recorded here do not constitute a cycle, but rather illuminate the composer’s development, and are connected across decades by Lauridsen’s love of early music. The two anthems to Psalm texts, I will lift up mine eyes and O come, let us sing unto the Lord (both 1970), are examples of Lauridsen’s style in embryo, as it were, for both were written while the composer was just twenty-seven years old. Both anthems evince the contrapuntal mastery that would prove an enduring feature of the composer’s technique. The pure and austere lines of I will lift up mine eyes, an a cappella setting of Psalm 121, evoke ancient organum and the imitative devices of Medieval polyphony. Complex chord structures and elaborate canonic procedures give O come, let us sing unto the Lord a sense of inexorable forward momentum. The coruscating organ part further enhances the prevailing mood of joy that pervades this anthem.

from notes by Byron Adams © 2007

Les trois pièces chorales sur des textes sacrés enregistrées ici ne constituent pas un cycle mais éclairent plutôt le cheminement du compositeur, l’amour que ce dernier voue à la musique ancienne les liant par-delà les décennies. Les deux anthems sur des psaumes, I will lift up mine eyes et O come, let us sing unto the Lord (1970), illustrent un style encore embryonnaire, pour ainsi dire, puisque Lauridsen avait tout juste vingt-sept ans quand il les écrivit. Ces deux anthems laissent transparaître la maîtrise contrapuntique qui allait marquer durablement sa technique. Les lignes pures et austères de I will lift up mine eyes—mise en musique a cappella du psaume 121—rappellent l’organum ancien et les procédés imitatifs de la polyphonie médiévale. Quant à O come, let us sing unto the Lord, structures d’accords complexes et procédés canoniques élaborés lui confèrent un inexorable élan vers l’avant, la coruscante partie d’orgue ne faisant qu’exacerber la joie prééminente de cet anthem.

extrait des notes rédigées par Byron Adams © 2007
Français: Hyperion Records Ltd

Die drei hier aufgenommenen Chorstücke auf geistliche Texte bilden keinen Zyklus, sondern illustrieren die Entwicklung des Komponisten und sind durch Lauridsen Liebe für Alte Musik über die Jahrzehnte verknüpft. Die beiden Motetten auf Psalmtexte, I will lift up mine eyes („Ich werde meine Augen erheben“) and O come, let us sing unto the Lord („O kommt, lasst uns dem Herren singen“, beide 1970), sind Beispiele für Lauridsens Stil im Embryozustand, und wurden geschrieben, als der Komponist erst 27 Jahre alt war. Beide weisen die kontrapunktische Meisterschaft auf, die sich als beständiges Merkmal in der Technik des Komponisten herausstellen sollte. Die klaren und strengen Linien von I will lift up mine eyes, eine a-cappella-Vertonung des 121. Psalms, evozieren antikes Organum und imitative Mittel mittelalterlicher Polyphonie. Komplexe Akkordstruktur und ausgetüftelte kanonische Schreibweise geben O come, let us sing unto the Lord ein Gefühl von unablässigem Vorwärtsimpuls. Die brillante Orgelstimme verstärkt weiter die Freudenstimmung, die die Motette durchzieht.

aus dem Begleittext von Byron Adams © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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