6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful contemporary choral music,
This review is from: Lauridsen - Lux aeterna (Audio CD)
The beauty of Lauridsen's music is very obvious and certainly immediately accessible, to many people. The danger is that such music can occasionally appear to take on a saccharine-sugary-sweet-mainstream New Age-vibe; thankfully, Lauridsen knows just precisely when to take a harmonic swerve to avoid hitting the honey-pot-trap full on - and this is a sign of his unquestionable talent and his music's harmonic mystique.
Lux Aeterna contains hauntingly beautiful passages; The Madrigals are very well written and full of live thanks to excellent interpretation (but not my favourites); the Ave Maria, although certainly Lauridsen-ly beautiful, is the one piece on the CD I find a little too borderline mainstream; lastly, the Magnum Mysterium shows the composer's earlier talent and a lot of promise.
The content of the CD is well chosen, as it shows coherence but also the composer's musical progression over a few years. Polyphony are an outstanding act, and Mr Layton a very talented conductor indeed - you'll be hard pressed to find more expressive & professional choral ensembles these days.
So why only 3 stars? Well, Lauridsen does rely on similar chord progressions & structures to attain the effect of his music's beauty, mainly through unresolved chords and / or stagnant chords with one or two vocal melodic variations. Again, it is still imminently and immediately beautiful - but after hearing it for a while it does start to feel somewhat repetitive and predictable. Furthermore, whilst the choral arrangements are encompassing in themselves, the orchestra has really nothing musically significant to do or contribute (think: Chopin Piano concertos, minus half its score) This in itself is a shame and probably shows why he is not in the Verdi- or Wagner-league (at least just yet) - but it does show the man knows how to focus on what he arguably does best: write absolutely beautiful contemporary choral music.