Friday, 28 August 2015

Barber, Copland etc - American Polyphony - Polyphony/Layton

Rating: 5/5

A very fine disc

This is a lovely and very interesting disc from the excellent Polyphony.  It's not really my usual repertoire but I like Steven Layton's work very much so I gave it a try.  I'm delighted that I did.

The music is a mixture of the very familiar in Barber's Agnus Dei (the choral version of the Adagio for Strings) and the unfamiliar (to me, anyway) in much if the rest of the programme.  It's all very good: rich, spiritual choral writing from some of the finest of later 20th Century composers.  I found it very rewarding and it remains a great pleasure every time I hear it.

Polyphony are, as always, excellent.  They are technically impeccable and create a genuinely spiritual atmosphere; for example, there is a wonderful serenity in Barber's setting of Hopkins's exquisite poem A Nun Takes The Veil.  It's a varied disc, too – Bernstein's Missa Brevis is anything but serene in places, for example – and it makes a really good programme.

Hyperion's recording is, as always, excellent, with a fine overall sound and lovely clarity in the individual lines.  It's a very fine disc all round and even if, like m, you're not usually that keen on 20th Century music, I can recommend this very warmly.

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