Phoenix Bach Choir, Kansas City Chorale
Camelback Bible Church, Paradise Valley, Arizona, USA
5 and 6 January & 19 and 20 May 2007
Previous recordings of these choirs have aroused much critical interest.
Only available collection of these works
Rheinberger is chronically under-represented in the catalogue, so it is good to see some of his choral works being added in such dedicated and beautiful performances.
Following two previously successful collaborations, which produced comments such as ‘this is one of the finest a cappella choral recordings I’ve ever heard’ (International Record Review) and ‘the massed forces of the Phoenix Bach Choir and Kansas City Chorale make a formidable choral machine’ (BBC Music Magazine), the choirs under the baton of Charles Bruffy here present a collection of unaccompanied sacred choral works by Josef Rheinberger.
The disc includes the only available recordings of his Oster-Hymne for double chorus and Four Six-part Motets, Op. 133. The Oster-Hymne is a setting of two ancient Easter texts, particularly the famous sequence Victimae paschali laudes. In theatrical presentations of the Easter story this sequence was sung after the procession to the tomb and the presentation of the empty grave clothes, and owing to its dramatic narrative and interaction with the apostles and Mary Magdalene it became the foundation of a famous mediaeval mystery play. The four Motets are lovely settings with texts from Psalms 124, 119, 133 and an offertory for Easter Monday that is excerpted from the gospel of Matthew. To emphasise the solemn, penitential nature of the Lenten season, both the ‘Gloria’ and ‘Alleluia’ were banished until Easter; therefore, the final motet, ‘Angelus Domini’, the offertory for Easter Monday, concludes with a jubilant, dancing ‘Alleluia’ to celebrate the triumph of the Resurrection: a truly uplifting experience for the listener. Complementing these rarely recorded works is Rheinberger’s better-known Mass in E flat major for double choir, composed in 1878. It was dedicated to Pope Leo XIII who rewarded Rheinberger with the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Saint Gregory. With its broad, antiphonal strokes, its judicious balance between homophony and counterpoint, and its clearly declaimed text designed for liturgical use, this unaccompanied Mass demonstrates clear links with classical models.
During his lifetime, Rheinberger was lauded as a talented performer, prolific composer and masterful teacher. He observed that his primary consideration in music ‘is that it shall be beautiful; music that does not sound beautiful has no attraction for me’. Sadly, much of Rheinberger’s output has been neglected since his death, but this recording is sure to inspire new interest. Previous recordings from the choirs have been declared ‘CD of the Week’ by Classic FM and ‘Choral Choice’ BBC Music Magazine.
Notes by Chandos