Etherea Vocal Ensemble — Hymn to the Dawn

A critically acclaimed emerging choir’s second album on Delos

Following the conspicuous success of Ceremony of Carols (DE 3422), Etherea Vocal Ensemble’s stunning debut album, we at Delos are delighted to present Hymn to the Dawn: their second effort. Amid a flood of positive critical response to Etherea’s first album, critic Bob chambers’ comments (in Choral Journal, August 2012) are typical:“Throughout the recording the style is impeccable and the intonation flawless. One is immediately struck by the tone of the group … shimmering. no boy choir could equal this tone.”

Rare and fascinating selections from the limited repertoire for female choir

While the male choir tradition had been flourishing (particularly in Germany) since the early 1800s, works composed specifically for female choirs were quite rare – as there were practically no women’s ensembles to perform them. But two such early rarities – by Felix Mendelssohn and Gioachino Rossini – are heard in this album. Composers of the late-Romantic era didn’t begin writing regularly for treble voices until after 1859, when Johannes Brahms founded (and composed for) his women’s choir in Hamburg. This gave rise to a mini-trend that inspired composers like Josef Rheinberger, Amy Beach and Gustav Holst (all represented here) to write for such ensembles. Even so, music for women’s voices remains relatively uncommon.

Three world premiere recordings

This release includes first-ever recordings of Beach’s charming Three Shakespeare Choruses, Rheinberger’s accomplished Sechs Gesänge cycle, and the French-text version of Rossini’s delightful Trois choeurs religieux. Among the album’s other selections, Holst’s very seldom-heard Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda and the Two Eastern Pictures are particularly rare, exotic, strikingly lovely, and ripe for rediscovery.

Ravishing performances from the most unique choir of its kind and its supporting instrumentalists

The Etherea Vocal Ensemble is probably the only choir of its kind, consisting of eight voices – belonging to seven accomplished ladies and one supremely versatile gentleman: Derek Greten-Harrison, the ensemble’s director and performing countertenor (also an occasional baritone). The choir’s stiletto-sharp intonation, technical perfection, and celestially pure and gleaming sound never fail to enthrall its fortunate audiences. Keyboard master Alan Murchie and renowned harpist Grace cloutier (who also performs the beguiling solo Prelude by Prokofiev here) provide sensitive and expert accompaniment.

Listen to the first track from Hymn to the Dawn via SoundCloud:

Track Listing:

    Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
    Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda H99, Op. 26, no. 3 (1909-10)

  1. Hymn to the Dawn (3:00)
  2. Hymn to the Waters (2:00)
  3. Hymn to Vena (5:07)
  4. Hymn of the Travellers (2:26)
  5. Two Eastern Pictures H112 (1911)

  6. Spring (2:06)
  7. Summer (3:08)
  8. Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

  9. Prelude, Op. 12, no. 7 (1913) (2:22)
  10. Amy Beach (1867-1944)
    Three Shakespeare Choruses, Op. 39 (1897)

  11. Over hill, over dale (1:49)
  12. come unto these yellow sands (2:10)
  13. Through the house give glimmering light (2:59)
  14. Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901)

  15. Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen, Op. 35 (1865) (5:01)
  16. Sechs Gesänge, Op. 131 (1882)

  17. Ein Bild am Pfade (3:39)
  18. Die alte Tanne (2:20)
  19. Die Gebirgsbach (1:34)
  20. Im Erdenraum (3:01)
  21. Märchenzauber (1:57)
  22. Gute nacht (3:49)
  23. Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
    Drei Motetten, Op. 39

  24. >I. Veni Domine (1830, rev. 1837-8) (4:02)
    • II. Laudate pueri (1837)
  25. chorus (3:06)
  26. Trio (2:42)
    • III. Surrexit pastor bonus (1830)
  27. chorus (2:21)
  28. Duet (2:06)
  29. Solo (:35)
  30. chorus (2:24)
  31. Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)
    Trois choeurs religieux (1844)

  32. La foi (4:02)
  33. L’espérance (4:23)
  34. La charité (5:39)