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CD Review

Matthew Brown

Selected Choral Works

  • Matthew Brown
  • (though love be a day)
  • The Night has a Thousand Eyes
  • Sweet was the Song *
  • A Red, Red Rose
  • Another Lullaby for Insomniacs *
  • She Walks in Beauty
  • it may not always be so
  • Daybreak
  • Above-Three Dreamsongs of the Wintu People
  • Sitivit Anima Mea
  • Magnum Mysterium
  • Ecclesia
  • Table Grace
  • Tom Kelly/Billy Steinberg: True Colors (arr. Brown) *
* Christine Chang, piano
Antioch Chamber Ensemble/Joshua Copeland
Acis APL18719
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This disc is full of ravishingly beautiful sounds. The American choral composer Matthew Brown is showcased here, setting seemingly anything for chamber choir. And the Antioch Chamber Ensemble is a wonderfully blended mix of young voices. Texts that are familiar sound refreshingly new in Brown's very capable hands. It's mostly quiet, reflective music, mostly a cappella, and mostly wonderful.

Highlights are many; whether in the secular or religious world, the composer seems equally at home. His settings of the familiar Latin texts manage to be distinctively individual, and his evident love for poetry has given us some lovely new takes on some classic verse. Each work has a real feel for the words, and nothing feels cheesy or…well, True Colors isn't a work I expected to write about on Classical Net, but even that goes surprisingly well. Christine Chang doesn't even get credit for the selections she appears on, but her playing is subtle and perfectly fits the mood of this very well chosen program.

My main complaint lies with the recording, which makes the choir sound like mush. I tested the disc on three different systems, and in each case my ears got the same sound. I can fully understand wanting this kind of sound, and as a choral singer, better this than some dry as dust acoustic. Still, Brown's textpainting is so superb, and these singers so uniformly excellent, that just a little more crispness would have been that much more welcome. That aside, this disc was recommended in the New York Times. It deserves it, and Matthew Brown deserves more exposure.

Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman