How wonderful to have three orchestral pieces from Whitacre on this disc! They are each different from the other, providing a much more varied and richer album than his previous ones.
The River Cam is a tone poem with solo cello, and it deserves to become a staple of the repertoire. Those special Whitacre harmonies sound amazing on an orchestra - try the wondrous sound after 6:15, and again the final unearthly chord at the end of the piece. It's worth the price of the CD to hear that one chord alone. Water Night comes across well on string orchestra, sounding reminiscent in places of Arvo Part, but with that special Whitacre sound prevailing, and again a joy to hear those special harmonies on orchestra. Equus is in an unusual style for Whitacre, but it is well put together and an intelligent work, reminding me in places of Michael Torke (no bad thing!). I certainly don't agree with the Gramophone review's dismissal of it.
As a complete contrast in style, we get the setting of the children's book, Goodnight Moon, with Hila Piltmann taking the solo soprano part. This too is very enjoyable in its own way.
The rest of the disc is given over to the more typical Whitacre choral pieces, five of them in all. Whitacre has maintained his very high standards and they are all very good indeed. I'll just mention two. 'Oculi Omnium' is the shortest and is a model of perfection in miniature. The setting of 'Amen' is one of those divine moments. 'When David Heard' is the longest piece I have heard of Whitacre, at 17 minutes. It captures the distress of a father losing his son, and is dramatic and rather harrowing. Maybe Whitacre should tackle an opera at some point.
Whitacre is one of the most important developments is 'serious' music at the moment - don't be put off by the glamorous packaging. Thoroughly recommended.