Jorge Liderman: The Song of Songs Bridge 9172
Chamber Chorus of the University of California at Berkeley, dir. Marika Kuzma
San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, cond. David Milnes
Thea Musgrave: Choral Works Bridge 9161
The New York Virtuoso Singers, cond. Harold Rosenbaum, narrated by Michael York
Two CDs of modern works for vocal ensembles, the quality of which would provide a good introduction to the genre for the uninitiated listener.
The Liderman disc sets the Hebrew Bible’s Song of Songs to music very effectively. It is a poem charting the sexual awaking of a young woman and her lover. This is quite extraordinary material for a ‘western’ religious text. But the words are largely irrelevant unless you have abnormally sensitive hearing faculties. The text becomes undecipherable for the average listener and the music is what’s of importance. There’s plenty of drama and pathos here and the commentary provided in the notes clarifies the exact meanings of the action. It’s moderately hard work to listen to but well worth the effort. Playing at relatively higher volume is essential to gain best results.
Thea Musgrave’s works are settings of poetry by Auden, Yates and others, and are altogether far clearer to listen to as songs than the Liderman disc. But again the music is atmospheric and full of moody drama, so can stand up as good music for those even harder of hearing than ‘yours truly’!
Both albums are beautiful and charming and will prove exciting avenues of discovery for the adventurous music lover in search of new musics.