21st Century Consort Records “Cathedral Music” (CD Review)

Cathedral Music

Works by James Primosch, Stephen Albert, and Christopher Patton

Lucie Shelley, treble; Mary Mackenzie, soprano

21st Century Consort; Christopher Kendall, conductor

Albany Records CD Troy 1615


Washington’s National Cathedral might not be the first place one considers as the best to record chamber forces. But Cathedral Music, the 21st Century Consort’s new Albany recording, revels in the space. Soprano Mary Mackenzie’s supple rendition of James Primosch’s Sacred Songs and Meditations sounds clear as crystal. The song cycle collects ancient hymns and refashions them into a beautiful collection of graceful, often chant-inflected, melodies.

The intricate polyphony and antiphony of the title work, by the late Stephen Albert, is warmly acoustically attired. Like all of Albert’s work, the orchestration is sumptuous, providing an intriguing palette of colors that complements the primarily angular melodic gestures. Christopher Patton’s Out of Darkness provides a muscular closer, with clarinet cadenzas set against boisterous percussion and angular chordal punctuation. Conductor Christopher Kendall and company are to be commended for negotiating a host of balance challenges to craft a fine document of three compelling works.


This Weekend: Out of Town Gigs


I am performing in New Jersey this weekend, otherwise I would be visiting Washington, DC to hear Megan Ihnen and Martha Morrison Muehleisen perform Kurtag’s Kafka Fragments (details below) or to Boston to hear the Czech ensemble/composer collective Konvergence (details also below): sometimes, work gets in the way of a good time and opening one’s musical mind. I hope that if you are able to go to either of these noteworthy new music events, you will.

Kafka Fragments
Megan Ihnen, mezzo-soprano
Martha Morrison Muehleisen, violin
January 11 at 8 PM
Atlas Performing Arts Center
The Theresa and Jane Lang Theatre
Washington, D.C.
Buy tickets here

Mountains, Silence, Fragile
January 12 at 7:30 PM
1353 cambridge st
cambridge ma 02139

Hubert Ho: Injection Refraction
 no. 3
Michaela Plachka: Mountains, Meadows, Cows

Helmut Lachenmann: Dal niente

Tomas Palka: Simple Silence

Chao Jan Chang: from The Flying Eastman

Ondrej Stochl: Notturno Fragile

Morton Feldman: The viola in my life

Jiri Mraz – clarinet

Eva Hutyrova – piano

Ondrej Stochl – viola, artistic leader

Tomas Hanzlicek – guitar