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Victor Carr Jr.
ClassicsToday.com, June 2002

"The music is understandably varied in style, but not in quality, which maintains a consistently high level...Beveridge's choral writing is skillful and quite moving, enhanced by effective orchestral scoring, all of which receives a committed and lively performance by the Choral Arts Society of Washington under Norman Scribner's enthusiastic direction. The well-balanced live recording really captures the sense of the occasion. Don't let the religious subject matter put you off; Beveridge's Yizkor Requiem offers a pleasurable and rewarding musical experience. And like Levi's Rye bread, you don't have to be Jewish (or in this case Catholic) to enjoy it."



Henry Fogel
Fanfare, April 2001

"This splendid work is not likely to please those who believe that music written today must be thorny, intellectually challenging throughout, and never tuneful or songful. The truth is that there is room for a wide range of musics in our lives if we would all simply drop our pet hobbyhorses and find that it is possible to enjoy, say, Orff's Carmina Burana and Carter's Variations for Orchestra. Not that this is as simplistic as Carmina Burana. It has more complexity and variety than that.

"Naxos gives us some information about Thomas Beveridge (he studied with Nadia Boulanger, Randall Thompson, and Walter Piston), but not his age. From his bio I would guess him to be in the neighborhood of 50. Although he has apparently been fairly prolific, this was my introduction to his music.

"Yizkor is the Jewish memorial service given in memory of those who died thus the title Yizkor Requiem gives away Beveridge's unusual concept of combining memorial services of the Jewish and Catholic religions. The work was inspired by the death of the composer's father in 1991; when his mother died a year and a half later he dedicated the work to the memory of both of his parents. His father had a strong ecumenical background, described in the composer's own very helpful notes. It is easy to see how this inspired Beveridge with his idea.

"The influence of Jewish liturgical music seems strong throughout the piece, particularly given the very strong presence of the cantor. But the various musical influences blend into a very persuasive whole, and the work doesn't sound like a pastiche at all. It flows through its one hour with momentum and a sense of organic growth. The final section, which combines the Mourner's Kaddish and Lord's Prayer, is extraordinarily moving.

"The performance is terrific. Norman Scribner invests energy and commitment into every phrase, and his Choral Arts Society sings with clear diction, spot-on intonation, a rich tone, and a beautiful blend of sound. The orchestra is, I presume, a Washington freelance based group; it plays very well. Given that this is a live performance, with no indication of patch sessions for editing, one has to be impressed by the general precision and accuracy. There are very small untidy choral entrances on occasion, but they are few and far between. Soprano Christine Goerke's voice floats and soars beautifully (her singing in the Lux Aeterna is ethereal), and Susanna Poretzky's warm, solid mezzo is another asset. Both ladies sing as if they believe deeply in the score. Albterto Mizrahi has been a leading cantor in the Chicago area for many years, and has a concert and operatic background as well. While one has to admit that his voice sounds a bit worn when he pushes it, his remarkably accurate and incisive rhythms, his genuine vocal presence, and the intense ardor with which he invests his music all combine to make his performance a major asset.

"The recorded sound is not ideal: It seems cramped, a bit on the dry side, and somewhat congested at climaxes (even with distortion at one or two points). But it doesn't get in the way. Naxos supplies full texts and translations. This is an important contribution from Naxos's American Classics series, a work of genuine melodic appeal and power."



Philip Greenfield
American Record Guide, April 2001

"What's most fascinating about this 10-movement work scored for a cantorial tenor, two female soloists, mixed choir, and orchestra, though, is that its premise is absolutely valid. For despite intense, long-lasting, probably irreconcilable differences in theology, Judaism and Christianity are connected liturgically-from the beginning. As the Latin-Hebrew glossary supplied by Naxos shows, there is a shared vocabulary. Occasional lines of prayer are davined almost identically by rabbis and priests alike. The Sanctus, for example, comes from the prophet Isaiah and turns up in the Siddur, the Jewish book of prayer...

"Beveridge brings the traditions together in some very clever ways. In the opening Kaddish movement, for example, the Jewish Prayer for the Dead is presented in the spirit of the church's doxology-a prayer of Thanksgiving-which, in truth, is just what it is. In II, 'Te decet hymnus' becomes a mid-eastern dance with a real Yiddishe twist to it; and there's a hand-in-glove musical juxtaposition of the Festival Amidah (Standing Prayer) and the 'Domine Jesu' in IV.

"The excellence of Norman Scribner's Choral Arts Society is a longstanding tradition in the nation's capital, and the orchestra is full of players from the National Symphony, so this is not your usual pick-up band."






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7:28:01 PM, 18 December 2014
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