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David Vernier, September 2013

…Noel Edison has chosen 12 first-rate works, whose creators…know not only how to write for voices, but who also (mostly) know how to find fresh and interesting contexts even for the most familiar texts.

I have already heaped praise on the accomplishments of the Elora Festival Singers and director Edison for several of their releases over the past few years…it’s among the world’s finest choirs…

The production values are predictably high…Serious choral music fans will not miss this; for the rest of you, I can only say that you ignore Canadian choral music at your peril. © 2013 Read complete review

Donald Rosenberg
Gramophone, September 2012

Naxos continues its Canadian Classics series with this glowing and varied programme of sacred works by 11 living composers. The offerings range widely in style, from traditional hymn settings to deftly coloured statements of faith…all of the pieces reveal superb craftsmanship and keen sensitivity to texts.

…Ruth Watson Henderson’s Missa brevis…are exemplary in expressive concision. For sheer sonic beauty, there’s the score that gives the disc its title, Leonard Enns’s I saw eternity…Paul Halley’s Bring us, O Lord God, works euphoric enchantment with help from pipe organ. An altogether different world is depicted in Marjan Mozetich’s Flying Swans, a haunting and modal beauty for undulating choristers mingling voices with moody clarinet and cello (the excellent Stephen Pierre and John Marshman).

The disc’s repertoire is challenging in terms of balance, texture and ensemble, and the Elora Festival Singers, led by Noel Edison, rise to every demand. The chamber choir sings with exceptional cohesion and true intonation, revelling in the outpouring of sacred emotions summoned by gifted compatriots. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

William J Gatens
American Record Guide, September 2012

This is a sampling of choral works by 11 living Canadian composers. There is considerable variety in musical personalities here, but the music is generally accessible. The performances here are technically brilliant. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

√Čric Champagne
La Scena Musicale, September 2012

The second edition in the series Canadian Classics from Naxos, this repertoire of English-Canadian choral music is a beautiful discovery. This album includes 11 works by as many composers who subscribe to the traditional school of choral writing—traditional writing, certainly, but of an undeniably intrinsic beauty. The proof can be found in the very beautiful Missa brevis by Ruth Watson Henderson and Marjan Mozetich’s ethereal Flying Swans. The Elora Festival Singers, an Ontarian chamber choir, demonstrates quality sound and uncommon artistry. It is a real pleasure to listen to their beautiful timbres and perfect vocal harmony. © 2012 La Scena Musicle Read complete review

Jeff Reilly
CBC, July 2012

…Peter Togni brings you new releases, discs from across Canada and around the world that have come out since the beginning of the year.

One of them is a new disc from the Elora Festival Singers, I saw Eternity, that focuses exclusively on Canadian composers.

In this collection you’ll find lyricism, immediacy and pure, unabashed beauty. Composers like Leonard Enns, Peter Tiefenbach and Glenn Buhr get stunning performances on this release, and the pristine audio production serves to enhance the impact. © 2012 CBC Read complete review

David A. McConnell
MusicWeb International, June 2012

The CD opens with a setting of the Gloria by Timothy Corlis. The choir’s opening fortissimo chord is impressively projected, but the music quickly winds down to a more tentative, gentler mood. Soon a piano enters with driving ostinato figures that inject greater energy and movement into the vocal writing.

The slowly shifting cluster chords of I Saw Eternity are reminiscent of Eric Whitacre’s music, and the choir sings it with rapt intensity. This style of music requires, and here receives, spotless intonation. After these two weightier works, Tiefenbach’s Nunc Dimittis is touchingly simple, with choral lines lying within a narrow range until the word “light,” where the voices suddenly divide into a widely spaced chord, a perfect setting of the word, beautifully realized in this performance.

Henderson’s Missa Brevis features more concentrated chromaticism and rhythmic complexity, as does Galbraith’s Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. Towards the end of the motet, Galbraith introduces subtle echoes of “Picardy,” the hymn tune usually wed to this text. This leads to a thrilling climax with the word “Alleluia”, as the hymn tune is finally heard in full.

Suffice to say that these 13 selections on this CD provide a generous sampling of the variety of compositional styles found in contemporary Canadian choral music. The Elora Festival Singers inhabit each style fully and with apparent ease. Their singing is consistently beautiful, the sections well balanced, with unified ensemble singing and crisp diction. In several of the works, sopranos and tenors are asked to sing in a high tessitura, yet they never sound strained or overly bright. And in Bless the Lord for the Good Land, the basses display an impressive low range that would be the envy of many Russian choirs. While the instrumentalist’s contribution is minimal, their playing is as excellent and as sensitive as the singing.

The recording itself is well engineered, capturing the choir in a warm ambiance that nevertheless allows for textual clarity. Noel Edison obviously believes in this music and he elicits interpretations of passion and refinement in equal measure. This is well-crafted and profound music that is performed with great conviction and beauty. © 2012 MusicWeb International

Dianne Wells
The WholeNote, June 2012

The Elora Festival Singers continues its history of collaboration with Canadian composers in this strikingly beautiful recording…well served by the choir’s pitch-perfect and artful delivery. © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2012

Fifteen tracks of choral music by composers who were born or presently working in Canada, performed by one of North America’s well-known choral groups. Eleven composers are represented, most of the music being of sacred content and composed in the 21st century. Opening with the dramatic Gloria from Timothy Corlis’s Missa Pax, the remaining tracks are generally slow moving and point to the influence that Gorecki and John Tavener have had on present day choral composition. That floating ethereal quality is here ever present as we luxuriate in beautiful harmonies. The one major exception comes from the oldest composer, Ruth Watson Henderson. Born in 1932 and destined for a life as a pianist, it was her accompaniment to choral societies that initiated her vocal works. Her Missa Brevis is the discs most extended work, its four contrasted sections omitting the Credo. I was equally taken by Flying Swans from the Italian-born Slovenian composer, Marjan Mozeitch, who arrived in Canada as a child. With the help of cello and clarinet he creates a hauntingly beautiful score. There is also throughout the disc the crunchy harmonies today beloved of the world’s choral composer’s, the crossover composer, Glenn Buhr, offering something different in the tonal qualities of the Agnus Dei from The Ritchot Mass. Corlis gets a second opportunity to impress with To See the Cherry Hung with Snow, one of four works on the release composed for the performers. As we have come to expect, the Elora offer smooth, refined sound of impeccable intonation, and without those pungent sopranos now beloved of the famous British groups. The sound quality is a perfect replica of the Elora’s qualities. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, May 2012

Compiled here are the works of 15 contemporary composers born in, or somehow associated with, Canada. Their expositions radiate a numinous energy; subtle yet powerful, each in its way an attempt to connect personally with an ineffable deity. Opening with Timothy Corlis’ ‘Gloria’…the choristers of the Elora Festival Singers invite listeners on a beguiling journey into the mystic, an expedition neatly summarized by the Platonically-inspired title track. Drenched in the natural reverb of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Elora, Ontario, the choristers voices in these compositions take on an ethereal lightness—ministering through melody, as it were—and hearing them, it isn’t hard to believe they’re singing music from the near side of heaven. Divine. © 2012 Scene Magazine Read complete review

John Terauds
Musical Toronto, May 2012

The Elora Festival Singers, a professional, 25-member chamber chorale, can stand alongside the world’s best, as is demonstrated…on this endearing album, issued by Naxos under its Canadian Classics banner…the choir is impeccably balanced and precise, while also producing a warm, gracefully shaped musical arc in each phrase.

The 12 composers each bring a different dimension to the experience. It is music that can be enjoyed as music just as much as stimulus for personal spiritual reflection.

The album opens with a 2009 setting of the Gloria Patri by Timothy Corlis that is equal parts magical incantation and celebration in music.

The oldest work on the disc is a Missa Brevis from 1976 that has become a staple of better choirs across the Anglican communion. Toronto composer Ruth Watson Henderson shows how traditional counterpoint can be mixed into a modern idiom in a gorgeously structured, compact a cappella setting of the ordinary of the Mass.

The sweetest setting, of the Nunc Dimittis, or Song of Simeon…comes with a simple, atmospheric piano accompaniment elegantly rendered by Leslie De’Ath…

It’s such a pleasure to be able to celebrate fine choral music, gloriously well sung… © 2012 Musical Toronto Read complete review

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