On the Record: Conspirare's 'Sing Freedom'
If, like me, you value spirituals as highly as lieder, there is a new recording you'll want to grab.
If you're among those folks, bless their hearts, who can't stand spirituals for some pathetic reason, this CD may well make you a convert.
It's from an Austin-based professional choral ensemble called Conspirare that has been going strong for two decades.
The reasons for that success are evident throughout "Sing Freedom: African American Spirituals," released on the Harmonia Mundi label.
To begin with, Conspirare, led by its founder Craig Hella Johnson, is a first-rate choral force, boasting impeccable articulation, intonation, diction and rhythmic clarity, not to mention a warm, seamless blend.
What seals the deal is the exquisite musicality these choristers offer in a rewarding assortment of well-known and more obscure spirituals.
Spirituals have ...
Those qualities glow throughout this recording, which features classic choral arrangements and some notable recent ones, including harmonically rich, haunting treatments by David Lang ("Oh Graveyard") and Tarik O'Regan ("Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"). There's room, too, for a kinetic new spiritual,"Freedom Song" by Robert Kyr.
The CD demonstrates the rare expressive power in this noble musical genre, and the remarkable ability of Conspirare to express it to compelling effect.