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Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, November 2020

Sperry and his ensemble went on to release an all-Ešenvalds disc (The Doors of Heaven) on Naxos in 2017. Now he and his choir are back with Translations, their second all-Ešenvalds disc. Since 2013, Ešenvalds has become a much more familiar name, at least in choral circles. The 2013 release, which was a mixed program, included a recording of O salutaris hostia, and it is that work, in a new recording, that opens this CD. Given the nature of college choirs, it is likely that none of his singers performed on both recordings, but Sperry’s ability to draw professional-quality performances from non-professional singers remains unchanged.

…The Portland State Chamber Choir sounds not like one ensemble but like several on this CD, as its members vary their sound from one work to the next. There are about 40 singers who participate here, and many of them are given responsibilities as part of smaller groups. This ensemble is of an international quality and should inspire college and university choirs everywhere. © 2020 Fanfare Read complete review



Philip Greenfield
American Record Guide, September 2020

Let’s start with Portland State Chamber Choir. They perform this music with gorgeous tone, a palette of evocative colors, and pinpoint dynamic control. Bravo to them and to their conductor.

My kingdom for a rhythmic pulse! If you are an Eriks Esenvalds completist or you just want to hear an amazing choir at work, by all means seek this out. © 2020 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide




Choir & Organ, July 2020

Superb work from the Portland choir and players. © 2020 Choir & Organ



Karl W. Nehring
Classical Candor, June 2020

Conductor Ethan Sperry (b. 1971) has provided extensive liner notes that provide great insight into the music.

As the album opens, we hear a soaring soprano voice hovering above the sound of the choir. The sound quality is pure and natural, making us feel as though we are being ushered into a sacred space of beauty and rest. The soft “amen” at the end is at once resigned and triumphant…

The musicians, engineers, production staff, and the folks at Naxos have all done themselves proud with this fine release. © 2020 Classical Candor Read complete review



Jason Victor Serinus
Stereophile, May 2020

The music is gorgeous, filled with an ethereal beauty that speaks to me of celestial realms. The singing is equal in quality to the finest I’ve heard on record. And the recording quality is exemplary… © 2020 Stereophile Read complete review




Oliver Condy
BBC Music Magazine, May 2020

Portland State Chamber Choir produces a beautifully blended sound in Ešenvalds’s multi-layered, atmospheric music… © 2020 BBC Music Magazine




Malcolm Riley
Gramophone, May 2020

A stunning, timely triumph, therefore, full of ravishing, transformative and deeply touching music. © 2020 Gramophone




James Manheim
AllMusic.com, April 2020

The Portland State Chamber Choir, here accompanied by shimmering textures from a small group of strings and percussion, is ideally suited to Esenvalds’ limpid music, and the singers bring both purity and a real sense of discovery to The Legend of the Walled-In Woman, a haunting realization of an Albanian folk song. … A truly lovely choral release, with youthful voices at their most enchanting. © 2020 AllMusic.com Read complete review




John Quinn
MusicWeb International, April 2020

I came to this CD as a strong admirer of the music of Ēriks Ešenvalds but had I not done so then I feel sure this disc would have converted me. Ešenvalds is one of the most interesting and innovative composers of choral music currently before the public. Even his shortest works are ambitious in imagination and as a singer himself—he was for nine years a member of State Choir Latvija—he has great knowledge of what will work well for a choir. This particular programme offers an excellent cross section of his choral music.

Ešenvalds is extremely well served by the Portland State Chamber Choir. Given that this is now their second CD of his music and they have commissioned music from him it’s obvious that their conductor, Ethan Sperry is an admirer. That enthusiasm comes over in his excellent booklet essay and, crucially, in the way he gets his choir to perform the music. They make a very fine sound indeed and the singing is highly disciplined and attentive to detail. In every respect this new disc matches the very high standards which they set on their previous Ešenvalds disc. They have been recorded warmly and clearly by the engineers.

Admirers of the music of this gifted Latvian composer should not hesitate to acquire this outstanding disc. © 2020 MusicWeb International Read complete review




Norbert Tischer
Pizzicato, April 2020

The Portland State Chamber Choir is part of the Portland State University College of the Arts in Portland, the largest city in the US state Oregon. It is one of the best choirs in the United States, and this CD is further proof of its high standard. The performances on this CD are excellent, very atmospheric, with excellent solo performances. The choir sings with much warmth, clarity and flawless intonation. In addition, the performances have also been beautifully recorded. © 2020 Pizzicato Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2020

Eriks Esenvalds was born in 1977, and is presently adding much to the international perception of today’s music in his native Latvia, particularly with his choral works.

To place him in your mindset, I have previously commented that you will enjoy his scores if you are already into the world of Arvo Part and John Tavener. All the works on this release have been composed in present century, and are a sample of his large output, the choice of text from poets in both the sacred and secular world, and written through many different eras. Concentrating on the beauty of the human voice, Esenvalds remains within the parameters of tonality as the various strands wind often in complex musical shapes to create the harmonies. I was particularly captured by The Legend of the Walled-in Woman, musically a beautiful Albanian folk-song on the rather gruesome story of the wife who was built into the wall of the fortress to help ward off the invaders. The work, one of the most extended on the disc, ending with a funeral march. Though percussion instruments have made a subtle part of the fabric in Translation and Vineta, it is only in the final track, In paradisum that we have an accompaniment, this being restricted to a viola and cello whose presence adds an extra degree of warmth to the Catholic Liturgy.  Portland is situated in the American state of Oregon, the State Chamber Choir numbering an ensemble of thirty-two having taken part in this recording. So refined is their quality that I might have thought it a much smaller group. Founded in 1975, and now in his tenth year, the conductor, Ethan Sperry,  has added much to their premiere place in choral singing. The recording quality is excellent. © 2020 David’s Review Corner



Textura, March 2020

A gorgeous prayer for peace with text by St Thomas Aquinas, “O salutaris hostia” opens Translations on a rapturous high with sopranos Kate Ledington and Maeve Stier heard first antiphonally and then in duet, their angelic voices joined by a choir that expands from upper voices to an eight-part presentation; pitched at a hush, the performance gradually builds to a controlled climax before a resolution and concluding “Amen” bring it to an exquisite close. © 2020 Textura Read complete review





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