Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

David Puderbaugh
Choral Journal, November 2012

This disc of psalm settings and other works by Felix Mendelssohn and Cyrillus Kreek provides proof that the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (EPCC), now with its third conductor, Daniel Reuss, can still be counted among the world’s finest.

Cyrillus Kreek (1889–1962) is one of Estonia’s most important composers. The simplicity of Kreek’s psalm settings belie their profound beauty.

The inclusion of five of Kreek’s vaimulikud rahvaviisid [Sacred Folktunes] is a bonus on this disc, and greatly increases its value to U.S. choral conductors.

This current disc alternates between sets of Mendelssohn and Kreek psalm settings, making it easy to hear the distinction between Mendelssohn’s Romantic lyricism and Kreek’s mystical depth. This by itself commends the recording, but the presence of Kreek’s sacred folksong arrangements makes this a disc a must have for U.S. choral conductors. © 2012 Choral Journal

Malcolm Riley
Gramophone, September 2012

…a highly satisfying, generously filled a cappella programme of mostly little-heard music. Daniel Reuss draws impassioned and mellifluous performances from his Grammy Award-winning choir of 24 voices. Its beautifully blended, creamy tone (especially in the altos) and clarion-like tenors are underpinned by warm basses.

Of the Mendelssohn selection, the Three Psalms of 1843-44 stand out especially, being notable for their integrity and deep spirituality. Every colour of the word-painting is carefully nuanced here. The ladies float ethereally in ‘Lift thine eyes’ (from Elijah) and the sonorous gravitas of the male-chorus ‘Wie selig sind die Toten’ is especially effective.

All of Cyrillus Kreek[’s] music is carefully crafted; Psalms 104 and 137 are by far the most striking. The sacred folksongs are charming and haunting in equal measure. A disc to savour. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Raymond Beegle
Fanfare, September 2012

Mendelssohn’s seven psalms are well suited to the sweet and sunny tone of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir…their excellent blend and intonation, combined with their ability to make one believe what they are singing, give more satisfaction than one finds in either Roger Norrington’s glib performances (Decca) or Helmuth Riling’s academic readings by his Stuttgart Bach Collegium (Hänssler). With the Estonian choir we find something genuine, without self-conscious scholarship on one hand, and something rooted in a great tradition with no hint of pop alloys on the other.

The psalm settings of Cyrillus Kreek…unfold with the cool, monumental dignity one associates with Sibelius. The melodic material, very folklike, and often sung in octaves, is quite moving. More moving still are his arrangements of five sacred folk songs. The temperaments of composer, conductor, and chorus seem to be in perfect accord with the architecture of the Haapsalu Dome in which these beautiful anthems are sung. It seems that the Estonian works and all of the performances, gentle, profound, demure, state his case persuasively. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Philip Greenfield
American Record Guide, September 2012

Kreek’s spirit of moderation is buoyed by elegant craftsmanship and a sincerity of faith you can cut with a knife. Ditto Mendelssohn. At the center of Jauchzet dem Herrn, for example, Mendelssohn lets us know that praising God can be a profound experience. In Kreek’s 22nd Psalm (My God, Why Has Thou Forsaken Me?), the believer’s sad words are expressed with a knowing introspection not far removed from the inner peace of Mendelssohn’s grateful spirit. They dovetail beautifully, there and elsewhere.

The singing is extraordinary, with the choir’s warm, gracious tone animated by supple phrasing from all quarters. What gorgeous soprano and alto sections this choir has! Diction is remarkably clear, even as melodies flow richly and smoothly by. Such a luminous effect is achieved at “Sende dein licht” in Mendelssohn’s Richte Mich, you’d be tempted to own this for that interlude alone. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

William Hedley
MusicWeb International, August 2012

The present collection is a reissue of a disc first issued in 2009. The Mendelssohn pieces, most of which will be familiar to choral music enthusiasts, receive outstanding performances from this marvellous choir. We need not concern ourselves with such matters as intonation, balance and blend, so accomplished is the singing. The words are beautifully clear, and, to my ears, the German is idiomatic. Reuss paces each of these works to perfection. Most of the pieces are psalm settings, though the lovely trio for women’s voices, “Hebe deine Augen”, is taken from Elijah, and Mendelssohn incorporated his motet for double choir Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen into the same work. A curiosity is that the marvellous setting of Psalm 43, Richte mich, Gott, is sung in a version I have never heard before. Many of the differences between what is heard here and my Breitkopf score are only minor, but at other points the voicing is significantly different, and there are even some bars added here and there. The performance, like all the others, is magnificent. Listen to the subtle way the conductor ensures that the radiance written into the music at the phrase “Sende dein Licht” appears only gradually, thereby increasing its dramatic effect. Several of the Mendelssohn pieces feature solo voices, and given the overall homogeneity of the choral sound it is interesting to observe how many of these voices have their own quite individual timbre and character.

The music of Cyrillus Kreek will be less familiar. This is fascinating and extremely beautiful music. The language is conservative and the composer’s voice sober, yet the music is highly original and unlike any other. It is perfectly conceived for choir, rich and sonorous, and, for choristers with a reasonable ear and with sufficient tenors and basses availabl…The Estonian choir is, naturally, totally at home in the idiom—though there is not the slightest sign of their being any less comfortable in the Mendelssohn!…hearing this choir in almost any repertoire tends to have the same effect as hearing the music of Cyrillus Kreek—once you have experienced it you immediately start to look for more.

The choir sounds wonderful in the church acoustic…This really is not to be missed. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group