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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Thomas Juneau, Visions Eternal

Every collection of compositions has a trajectory, a way of proceeding. It certainly is true of the disk up for today, Visions Eternal (Ravello 7913), a set of four choral compositions by the American composer-conductor Thomas Juneau.

These are sacred works in a tonal-modern realm, looking backward to early music practices as it all gets rejuvinated in a contemporary framework. It features the Summit Chorale, the Juneau Vocal Alliance, and ranges from a capella to harp or organ accompaniment, with in the end-piece compositions adding the Scarlet Knight Brass and Percussion Ensemble. Juneau conducts.

The music is exalting or alternately contemplative. "Gaudette" is based on the text from a 16th-century Christmas Carol and has an infectious odd-meter quality; "Te Deum," "Five Latin Motets" and "Magnum Mysterium" are based on Latin liturgical or otherwise sacred texts of earlier times.

All of the music is has ethereal elements, atmospherically choral in its sure treatment of voices, and movingly composed. The performances are quite respectable and generally well done.

Juneau is a fine craftsman with an inspired way with massed vocalists. It is a compendium that feels right for this holiday season and the wintertime in general.

Anyone who enjoys angelic choirs and vocal ensembles that channel the sacred music traditions in modern ways will find this much to their liking. Recommended.

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