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CHAN 5100
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CHAN 5100

Northern Lights - Choral Works by Ola Gjeilo

The Classical Shop
release date: February 2012

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz

Originally recorded in 2011

Artists:

Charles Bruffy


Emmanuel Lopez

cello

Ola Gjeilo

piano

Alison Chaney

soprano

Ted Belledin

tenor saxophone

Phoenix Chorale


Harrington String Quartet



Venue:

Camelback Bible Church, Paradise Valley, Arizona, USA

28-30 May 2011

Producer:

Blanton Alspaugh



Engineer:

Byeong Joon Hwang


John Newton



Record Label
Chandos

Genre:

Choir




Total Time - 58:54
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  Northern Lights  
   
 

OLA GJEILO

1 

The Ground (2010)

3:37
  (Pleni sunt caeli)  
 Ola Gjeilo piano
2 

Serenity (2010)

5:13
  (O magnum mysterium)  
 Emmanuel Lopez cello
3 

Ubi caritas (2001)

3:06
   
4 

Northern Lights (2008)

4:22
  (Pulchra es, amica mea)  
5 

Dark Night of the Soul (2010)

12:38
 Alison Chaney soprano
 Ola Gjeilo piano
6 

The Spheres (2008)

4:47
  (Kyrie eleison)  
7 

Tota pulchra es (2001)

5:27
   
8 

Prelude (2004)

2:57
  (Exsultate, jubilate)  
9 

Phoenix (2008)

4:16
  (Agnus Dei)  
10 

Unicornis captivatur (2001)

6:37
   
11 

Evening Prayer (2010)

5:54
 Ted Belledin tenor saxophone
 Ola Gjeilo piano


The critically acclaimed, Arizona-based Phoenix Chorale (formerly Phoenix Bach Choir) originally focused on music of the Renaissance and baroque periods, but today is equally dedicated to the creation and performance of new music.

On this album the Choir performs choral works, and settings of sacred texts by the Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo.
 
When he first heard Gjeilo’s Ubi caritas, Charles Bruffy was instantly hooked, finding the music ‘refreshing and magnetic’. Bruffy brought Gjeilo’s music to the Chorale and its audiences, and the response was immediate. Soon after, Gjeilo was invited to be the Chorale’s first Composer-in-Residence.
 
Phoenix, a setting of the Agnus Dei, is dedicated to Charles Bruffy and the Phoenix Chorale in honour of its fiftieth anniversary. When Gjeilo first visited the choir in Arizona, he had never been to the desert before, and the ‘quiet beauty and barrenness of the landscape’ moved him deeply. He describes Phoenix as ‘symphonic in nature… one of those pieces where the text is very much the servant of the music, not the other way around’.
 
In contrast, Northern Lights takes its inspiration from Gjeilo’s homeland, Norway, and the ‘terrible beauty’ of the natural phenomenon that may be observed there. The music reflects the powerful and electric quality of the northern lights, which must have seemed both mesmerising and terrifying to people in the past when no one knew what they were, and superstition prevailed.
 
The Phoenix Chorale made its first appearance on Chandos in 2004 with Shakespeare in Song. Since then it has released several joint recordings with its sister choir, the Kansas Chorale, featuring among others Alexander Grechaninov’s Passion Week, the disc nominated for a Grammy in no fewer than four categories, including Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance, winning in the Best Engineered and Classical album categories.

                   Voted Best Classcial Vocal Album of  2012

I-Tunes - 2012


"...There are several stunning a cappella numbers; others come with instrumental accompaniments, both solo (cello, saxophone) and ensemble (string quartet). There’s one prominent soprano solo. The composer accompanies several pieces beautifully at the piano. Gjeilo obviously knows how to balance abd blend vocal and instrumental sound... I’ve never seen anything less than rave reviews of Bruffy and his Pheonix Chorale... Their absolutely flawless technique and gorgeous, burnished sound make them, without a doubt, one of America’s handful of top professional choirs. And you won’t believe how utterly amazing a great choir can sound until you hear this one as captured in Chandos’s Super-Audio hybrid sound. Soloists and instrumentalist leave nothing to be desired...If you like to stay abreast of significant new developments in the modern choral world, you simply can’t pass Gjeilo’s work up."

Lindsay Koob - American Record Guide - July/August 2012


                     ****  Good

Guy Engels - Pizzicato magazine - June 2012

 


“...I can’t imagine any music lover not being enchanted with this superbly sung album, recorded in spacious Super Audio sound that is simply riveting. Highly recommended!”  *****

Steven Ritter – Audiophile Audition.com – 25 April 2012


"Warmly appeasing choral music by the Norwegian Ola Gjeillo, with occasional instrumental support (from piano, saxophone and cello). Mainly mellow in tone, though Dark Night of the Soul strikes deeper."  ***

Terry Blain - Gramophone magazine - June 2012


“...Bruffy, the Pheonix Chorale and associated performers do not put a foot wrong. Chandos’s SACD sound is marvellous...”

Guy Rickards – Gramophone magazine – May 2012


“...The Phoenix Chorale has made some impressive discs already for Chandos and this latest release is fully up to previous standards. I listened to this SACD as a conventional CD and in that format the sound was excellent.”
 
John Quinn – musicweb-international.com – 6 April 2012


“...The Phoenix Chorale is superb throughout the collection, apparently convinced by the music... The recording is rich and warm, like the music, and gives plenty of prominence to the accompanying instruments ... beautifully sung and recorded collection of music that makes for very easy listening indeed.”

William Hedley – International Record Review – April 2012
 



“...The 27 professional voices of Arizona-based Phoenix Chorale under Charles bruffy paint limpid washes of sound with polished intonation, ensemble and balance. The music draws on sacred texts, some ubiquitous, others novel, and, save a couple of moderately-paced pieces, all the tracks are slow and meditative. Listeners and choirs wanting more of this ‘brand’ of choral music and will find plenty here, delivered with fine engineering and full sleeve notes.” ****

Matthew Power – Choir & Organ magazine – March/April 2012


                Performance *****    Sonics *****
“...The Phoenix Chorale are on top form here, clearly fully at home with their new composer’s music and delighting in every magnetic moment. Charles Bruffy’s vastly-experienced direction is as usual sensitive and technically assured. I am trying not to be too effusive here, because this music (and its singing) had a considerable emotional effect for me. Gjeilo’s poise, depth of humanity and root simplicity comes across in every bar, making this a very memorable experience. Given an impeccable recording, both in stereo and multichannel modes, well-written and fulsome notes ... a truly heartfelt performance, there is only one word to describe this album. Unmissable.”

Geohominid – SA-CD.net – 13 February 2012





*****
First, a disclaimer: I am one of the singers of the Phoenix Chorale, so obviously, I can't be very objective. That being said, this is one of the most gorgeous, transcendent, and spiritual choral recordings I've ever heard. From my vantage point, I think this is largely due to the synthesis of Ola Gjeilo's unique compositional "voice," the musicians' (both singers and instruments) enthusiasm for and comfort with the musical material, and the interpretive creativity of conductor Charles Bruffy. This combination resulted in an extremely high-quality collaborative outcome, on many different levels. I could describe other qualities of this recording, but again, I'm biased, so instead I'll leave it up to the lovers of beautiful choral music to listen and decide for themselves!
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