Off the Shelf Classics (continued)
LINDA TEDFORD is an artist-in-residence at Messiah College and director of the Susquehanna Chorale.
Choosing only three to five CDs that are essential to the well-rounded individual’s music library is certainly a bit daunting (like trying to choose discs for a desert island sojourn)! After some deliberation, I decided to focus on CDs by outstanding American choral conductors who have made major contributions to the choral arts in the 20th and 21st centuries. In light of that focus, I would recommend anything by these outstanding musicians, but especially these favorites.
Elijah with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Shaw’s artistry and commitment to drama are evident in this recording of Mendelssohn’s masterpiece. This is one of the choral masterpieces of all time, and a lesson in biblical history as well!
Harvest Home. This is the Dale Warland Singers’ latest CD, featuring American hymns, folk songs, and art songs arranged or composed by premier American composers. In my opinion, no one can match the beauty of sound of the DWS. If you are truly a choral fan, buy every one of their CDs!
Our Heart’s Joy. Chanticleer is an all-male vocal ensemble based in San Francisco, Calif. This fully professional ensemble is one of the USA’s top choirs. Our Heart’s Joy features a span of choral music—from 14th century religious compositions to the contemporary songs of today—and includes a fantastic medley of Christmas spirituals arranged by music director Joseph Jennings (who also sings on the album). Get ready for a lot of energy and variety. It’s a great addition to your general or Christmas CD collection.
And for Messiah College “folk,” how about investing in that wonderful choir right here on campus? The Messiah College Concert Choir (yes, that’s us you hear when your campus telephone call gets placed on “hold”) has made many CDs, available from the music department office. My favorites: In Remembrance and I Thank You God.
You also might try the Susquehanna Chorale’s CDs, Wondrous Love and Heritage, available at the website www.susquehannachorale.org. Many Messiah alumni, faculty, and staff are members and were involved in the production of the CDs. Wondrous Love made it to the pool of CDs recommended for Grammy consideration.
—LINDA TEDFORD is an artist-in-residence at Messiah College and director of the Susquehanna Chorale.
TIM DIXON is the director of orchestral activities and an assistant professor of music.
I find that I often choose CDs to listen to based on the quality of light outside. Strange, but true. There are certain works that I think of as good for sunny mornings, overcast afternoons, or warm and dark evenings. The “sunny” works aren’t simply happy—all of these works are dynamic pieces which span many shades of mood. But some just seem to affirm something affective that I associate with a given kind of light. In the summer, I particularly like to recharge my artistic brain by listening to music I do not have a performance relationship with, which is the case with all of these works.
(Deutsche Grammophon: New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein and Phillip Smith)
The great American symphony. Listen for the gradual and expansive growth of the first movement, beginning with the peeking through of a sunrise and ending with a sunset. You may recognize the fourth movement as being the “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Amazing scherzo; all Copland and all summer music.
(Deutsche Grammophon: Cleveland Orchestra,
A trip to the Austrian countryside complete with dances at night, serenades, mandolins, and as many as 20 cowbells in the last movement.
(RCA Victor: Tokyo String Quartet)
Misty, overcast morning music in the first and third movements with shimmering muted and tremolo string effects creating a cool Impressionism. Stomping party music in the second and fourth movement with the best use of pizzicato (plucking) ever.
(Naxos: Jeno Kevehazi, Jozsef Kiss, Jeno Jando, Ildiko Hegyi)
A remembrance of youthful summers. The first five minutes of this is worth the whole disc: a subtly growing thought alternating horn and violin which finally breaks open with the horn and violin playing in harmony. The work alternates autumnally nostalgic light in the first and third movements with youthful exuberance in the second and fourth movements.
(Telarc: Robert Shaw Chorale, Robert Shaw)
The ultimate night music, any time of year. Based on the Orthodox Vespers (all-night vigil) service, this a cappella work creates a sacred space anywhere it is performed (including your mp3 player or home stereo). A must-have.
—TIM DIXON is the director of orchestral activities and an assistant professor of music.
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