Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Modern Choral Music from Julian Wachner

Choral music in the contemporary classical mode perhaps has not gotten its due. There are a few composers who have excelled at it, but it is not a genre as central to our age as, for example, the instrumental chamber ensemble.

However based on volume one of the Complete Choral Music (Naxos) by Julian Wachner (b. 1969), there is excellent work being done today. The Elora Festival Singers under Noel Edison sing like angels; they do complete justice to Wachner's music. It has a touch of the aural voicings of Paert and Reich, but not in terms of style. Wachner uses the tang of modern harmonies as sound color. His music is declamatory or quiescent, depending on mood, and there is a minimalist touch here and there.

Mostly, though, it is Wachner's extension of choral tradition via his own contemporary vision that strikes this listener. The nine works presented on this volume one have depth and integrity. Here's a composer who feels completely at home with an a cappella choir, or voices with organ accompaniment. It is a very refreshing listen. The music has moments of true beauty. Bring on the next volume!

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