Our anniversary month celebrates the 37th year of Delos and the glories of the human voice, a combined celebration befitting Delos Founder Amelia Haygood’s love of great singing. The stunning debut album “Radvanovsky Sings Verdi” has already hit the Billboard, iTunes and Amazon charts. We are reminded to fasten our seat belts when we listen to the incomparable contralto Ewa Podles in her astonishing interpretations of “Handel Arias.” This week’s 37 for 37 spotlights a particularly affecting vocal album that sprang to the top of the Billboard Charts when it was first released, and has remained a favorite ever since. Don’t miss psychologist/music-lover Amelia’s insightful quote below about intonation.
A Billboard Chart-topping success.
“a wonderfully satisfying cross section of Renaissance music” USA Today
“Sheer musical excellence… Mr. Keene drew an intensity from his singers that effectively tapped into both the meditative and ecstatic currents of the music.” New York Times
Palestrina: Sicut Cervus • Josquin Desprez: Ave Maria • Lassus: Justorum Animæ • Palestrina: Jesu Rex admirabilis • Palestrina: Exultate Deo • Viadana: Exultate Justi • Victoria: Jesu, Dulcis Memoria • Byrd: Ave Verum Corpus • Sweelinck: Psalm 90 • Sweelinck: Psalm 96 • Sweelinck: Hodie Christus Natus Est • Conductus: O Maria Virgo Pia (Alessandra Visconti, Kathy Etherington, sopranos) • Josquin Desprez: Tu Pauperum Refugium • Tallis: O Sacrum Convivium • Tallis: If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments • Gibbons: Hosanna to the Son of David • Victoria: O Quam Gloriosum • Schütz: Selig sind die Toten • Leo: Heu Nos Miseros • Palestrina: Exaltabo Te • Batten: O Sing Joyfully • Victoria: O Magnum Mysterium • Tye: Laudate Nomen Domini • Hassler: Cantate Domino
The Delos choral series began with Roger Wagner’s last recording, and continued with fine professional and symphonic choirs across the U.S., as well as three outstanding choirs in Russia. Representing the series here is a favorite from Dennis Keene’s New York-based Voices of Ascension. At the time of our Delos 30th Anniversary, Amelia wrote:
“Dennis Keene, one of America’s stellar choral conductors, and his superb choir of professional singers, Voices of Ascension, have made a number of recordings for us that represent the finest in choral art. The most famous of these is probably ‘Beyond Chant.’ We recorded most of their programs, including this one, in the lovely acoustic of their ‘home’ Church of the Ascension in New York City — at night to minimize traffic noise. Both in the control room at the sessions and back home in our studio during post-production, I was reminded more vividly than ever of the emotional, psychological and just plain physical effect on human beings of the overtones that result when chords are sung with perfect intonation.”
Dennis wrote in his album notes:
“On the evening of March 3, 1994 the Voices of Ascension and I presented the works on this our second CD in a live concert in New York City. The setting was the place where we originated, and where we still perform: the Church of the Ascension, the oldest church building on Fifth Avenue. The day of the concert we were in a panic because the 17th(!) blizzard of the winter was hitting the city. We were resigned to performing to a ‘select’ audience. Much to our astonishment, by 8:05 PM the church was jam-packed. Every nook and cranny was filled with people who had fought their way through the snowstorm, the stalled traffic, the overcrowded subways, and the dangerous, icy sidewalks.
“I will never forget the atmosphere of the room when we started our first piece, Palestrina’s Sicut cervus. As soon as the tenors came out with their first note there was a remarkable calm and silence in the room, and hardly a cough or jostled program was heard for the next hour and a quarter.
“These were “hassled” city people who were in need of the beautiful spiritual world these pieces had to offer. I think that as our modern lives get more and more noisy and cluttered we yearn for a more peaceful and transcendent world. Perhaps that explains the recent interest in the antique music of the church — the music heard in the old basilicas, cathedrals and monasteries of Europe.
“Rather than concentrate on one composer or even one period or nationality, we decided to offer as much variety as possible: from early Renaissance (late 1400s) straight through to the official end of the period (approximately 1600) and even farther to Baroque composers writing in the Renaissance style. To add an extra bit of liturgical color we included a medieval conductus for two sopranos. It seemed the perfect introduction for Josquin’s masterpiece, Tu pauperum refugium.”