Introit: Benedicta sit Sancta Trinitas; POULENC: Quatre Petit Prií¨res de Saint Franí§ois d’Assise; LAURIDSEN: Ave Dulcissima Maria; CHESNOKOV (arr. Timothy C. Takach): Salvation is Created; HOIBY: Last Letter Home; JOEL (arr. Erick Lichte): Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel); Indian Raga (arr. Ethan Sperry): Ramkali; Japanese Folk Song (arr. Osamu Shimizu): Mogamigawa funa uta; ROBINSON (arr. Timothy C. Takach): Who’s Loving You; Mí„NTYJí„RVI: Pseudo Yoik NT; PAAKKUNAINEN: Dí¡lvi duoddar luohti; HAMLIN: Casey at the Bat: African-American Spiritual (arr. David Morrow): I Can’t Tarry. Cantus; Dave Hagedorn, vibraphone. Cantus 1207. 63 minutes.
Cantus is a small (nine voice) men’s chorus celebrating its tenth season with this release. They are a talented group””the voices are fine, they blend together well, and have impeccable diction and intonation.
As is often the case, this celebratory program includes selections spanning Cantus’ widely eclectic repertoire. There’s something for everyone here, as well as something that will cause most to thank God for Her invention of the “skip” button. My cringe reflex was triggered by the inclusion of jazzish vibraphone licks in the Gregorian chant number (Introit), but that has subsided somewhat on subsequent hearings.
It’s all beautifully performed and recorded. But there are three pieces that really stand out for me (and make the disc well worth having). Francis Poulenc’s Quatre Petit Prií¨res de Saint Franí§ois d’Assise are gemlike devotionals, communicating humanity and brotherhood. Morten Lauridsen’s Ave Dulcissima Maria is an expressive setting of a text celebrating Mary .Lee Hoiby’s Last Letter Home is a heartbreaking setting of Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens’ final communication with his family before his death in Iraq in 2003. Hoiby’s clean, unadorned setting is a perfect match for Pfc. Givens’ message of love and hope.