"Naxos's series of "American Classics" has done wonderful exploratory work shining a beam on the highways and byways of late Romantic and Modern American music. They haven't kept with the tried and true and indeed have unearthed music from most parts of the cultural spectrum. At bargain prices, you can discover for yourself music other than the umpteenth version of Appalachian Spring from other than the usual suspects. The performances here are very good. I like to believe the composer would have enjoyed them. The Hungarians make as good a case as possible for the symphony and do very well indeed with the Chant of Light. They give one a sense of each work's coherence, and in the latter, they manage to sing as well. The Czechs match them in the Chant of Darkness... The sound is perhaps a little too forward and bright, but still acceptable."
Chant of Darkness was Barati's response to the death of his 34-year-old daughter. This one-movement work is indeed dark, expressing profound grief, but there's a certain nobility that shines through despite the despair. Intended as a counter-balance to the gloom of Chant of Darkness, Chant of Light is certainly lighter in mood, but the atonal language (Barati was impressed by the intellectual rigor it required) precludes any real sense of joy. The real draw of these works is their fascinatingly brilliant construction and instrumentation--an aural treatise if ever there were one. Kovaks conducts Chant of Darkness, while Chant of Light receives a full-press performance by Vladimir Valek and the Czech Radio Symphony, who concede nothing to their Hungarian counterparts. Naxos' sound for both venues is vivid and richly detailed, with only a tendency toward brightness keeping it just shy of perfection.>
"Once again we are indebted to Naxos for bringing us music that we have never heard to us in fine sound at a low price. This is a disc well worth seeking out by those listeners eager to expand their musical horizons."
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