Magazine article Gramophone

Barber * Bernstein * Copland * Thompson: Barber Agnus Dei

Magazine article Gramophone

Barber * Bernstein * Copland * Thompson: Barber Agnus Dei

Article excerpt

Barber Agnus Dei. Reincarnations, Op 6. Two Choruses, Op 8. Two Pieces, Op 42. A nun takes the veil, 'Heaven-haven', Op 13 No 1 Bernstein Missa brevis (a) Copland Four Motets Thompson Alleluia. Fare Well Polyphony / Stephen Layton with Robert Millett perc Hyperion (F) CDA67929 (74' * DDD * T/t)

This is an atmospheric anthology, fastidiously chosen and delivered by this fine choir. The Barber Agnus Dei, the vocal version of the famous Adagio, is the best-known piece and makes its customary impact, although this performance trumps most others. The slow pace is impressively sustained and there is a telling bass-line commanding a real low D. Then Layton explores Barber's unaccompanied choral pieces with equal sympathy. 'Twelfth night' catches the mystical intensity of Laurie Lee's nativity poem and Barber also admired the Irish folk qualities of James Stephens in Reincarnations. The choral pacing and phrasing in pieces such as 'A nun takes the veil' is impeccable. …

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