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Paul Kilbey
Gramophone, February 2018

‘An hour of wind and of sky and of birds’ (as conductor Donald Nally puts it), this luscious choral work translates birdsong into a strange and compelling new form, with the four choirs singing ‘transliterations of the voices of the wind and birds’. © 2018 Gramophone

Steven Jude Tietjen
Opera News, December 2017

Canticles of the Holy Wind is an exploration of the sounds of nature devoid of the cliché onomatopoeia lay listeners may expect. These sounds are created entirely by the members of The Crossing using myriad syllables and vowels, humming and percussive vocal effects.

The movements focus on the sky, wind or bird song, each sharing more or less the same macro structure. For example, the sky movements, such as “Sky With Nameless Colors,” begin with slowly unfurling crescendos that mimic the sky as it changes from magenta dawn to golden afternoon to indigo sunset. The wind movements build from a breeze to a gale and back to a whisper. In “The Blue Wind,” the overlapping of voices creates deeply resonant but fleeting moments of complex, pulsating chords, reflecting the serendipitous counterpoint of nature.

Throughout Canticles of the Holy Wind, Adams uses moments of silence that are just as powerful as the full resources of the excellent members of The Crossing. The silence not only creates necessary contrast and tension but also allows the listener the same moments of contemplation and reflection they may experience when the sky is still, the winds calm and the birds at rest. © 2017 Opera News Read complete review

Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, November 2017

There are 34 singers listed in The Crossing, a professional chamber choir founded about a decade ago. The Crossing specializes in commissioning and performing new works and its members do astonishing work here. The singing, while always controlled and disciplined, also has the ring of uninhibited spontaneity to it. It’s as if, for a little more than an hour, the singers cease to be humans and transform themselves into the skies, the birds, and winds, and the Earth itself. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Robert Carl
Fanfare, November 2017

The Crossing was arranged as a cross, around the audience, so one heard the music constantly swirling, coming from four different directions. It was one of the more effective and moving uses of physical space as a compositional parameter I’ve heard.

I admit my heart rests a little more with the Wind. The sound is sumptuous and overwhelming. The harmonic motion feels very tonal, yet it’s not a rehash of familiar progressions. Part of this comes from Adams’s basing his chord structures on the overtone series, and articulating fluid movements between different spectra based on different fundamentals. It feels totally “natural” yet also fresh. In addition, the sound is richly detailed. Within sections, the individual voices are set in motion as musical cells, linked by motivic imitation and canon.

The Birds are more differentiated from one another, have distinct motivic profiles, and often play with alternating sound and silence in the spaces of their movements. At times I start to feel they may go on a little too long, but that’s their nature—if one listens to an avian soundscape, it can go on forever. This is an essential contrast to the Wind movements.

This is music that is both powerful and sensuously beautiful. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Robert Carl
Fanfare, November 2017

John Luther Adams continues a winning streak with his Canticles of the Holy Wind, a vast choral work. I find it beautiful and haunting… © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

John Quinn
MusicWeb International, September 2017

I’m sure that Canticles of the Holy Wind is very challenging to perform but Donald Nally’s choir puts it across superbly and I’m sure they deliver Adams’ textures and rhythms with great accuracy. The sheer sound of the choir is most impressive. They’ve also been recorded most successfully. The recording is truthful, atmospheric and handles a wide dynamic range very well. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, September 2017

I have listened to a handful of John Luther Adams’s pieces over the last several years; he seems to have native influences of Alaska in mind.

Canticles is for choir and sparingly used percussion; each of its 14 movements has a nature-related title, like ‘Sky with Four Suns’, ‘Dream of the Hermit Thrush’, and ‘The Blue Wind’. The lush, static movements appeal to me as better New Age music would, and some recurring soprano high notes remind me of the high C in Allegri’s Miserere.

Performances and sound are fine… © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, July 2017

By now it is clear that John Luther Adams has created a body of work that represents a pinnacle of development in the post-minimalist tonal ambient realm today. His music consistently gives off a sort of poetic glow that evidences his extraordinary sensitivity and brilliance. He knows what he wants to hear and what that is seems very right.

This may not be an absolute John Luther Adams masterpiece, but it is very absorbing and beautiful music that will put the serious listener in a special musical world as very few other composers today can do. © 2017 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

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