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CD booklet
Lux

Ludwig van Montreal
December 26, 2017

Luminothérapie des fêtes

Avouons-le : nous aimons tous un peu les lumières de Noël. Ce miroitement de teintes scintillantes nous fait plaisir. L’album Lux (lumière, en latin) du Chœur de l’église St. Andrew and St. Paul, à Montréal, est ainsi fait de lumière, mais d’une seule. LA lumière du cœur (du chœur aussi!) et de l’esprit.

L’ensemble de 45 membres est formé de chanteurs choisis après auditions, et plusieurs sont professionnels. L’ensemble sonne très bien, réalisant ici et là de belles nuances et exprimant efficacement le caractère souvent angélique des pièces choisies.

Il faut dire que le programme conçu pour Lux vise à plonger l’auditeur dans une sorte de paix réconfortante. Le mariage de valeurs sûres, telles Greensleeves, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing et O Come All Ye Faithful, de découvertes comme Venez mes enfants et de pièces contemporaines très accessibles comme Seek Him That Maketh The Seven Stars de Jonathan Dove, Lux Arumque d’Eric Whitacre et O Magnum Mysterium de Morten Lauridsen, se fait de bout en bout dans la même ligne éditoriale : une musique douce, empreinte de mystère et de spiritualité.

Jonathan Oldengarm complète la programmation avec quelques pièces au très bel orgue Casavant de l’église. Le solide instrument de 7000 tuyaux résonne ici et là avec une satisfaisante rondeur dans les basses.

Jean-Sébastien Vallée, le jeune chef de l’ensemble et aussi le directeur des études en chant choral et responsable de la division de direction à l’École de musique Schulich de l’Université McGill, est certainement responsable de la grande qualité de la musique qui se fait ici. Félicitations.

La prise de son réalisée pour ATMA Classique est ample et très naturelle. Une belle ambiance d’église, habilement captée par l’équipe de François Goupil, certainement l’un des meilleurs spécialiste en captation de concert de Radio-Canada. La réalisation est réalisée par un autre radio-canadien que j’apprécie énormément : Robert Rowat, de CBC.

Frédéric Cardin - Ludwig van Montréal 

The Gazette
December 13, 2017

Christmas CDs used to come by the bushel. No longer. But notable this year on ATMA is Lux, featuring the Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul under Jean-Sébastien Vallée. The program combines classics and novelties — a cappella and accompanied — sung with suitable warmth. Organ solos by Jonathan Oldengarm are impressive, and the resonance of the setting is justly captured. The album is available at atmaclassique.com. Better-than-CD quality is one of the download options.

Arthur Kaptainis - The Gazette

The WholeNote
November 26, 2017

While this CD obviously represents a Christmas disc, it is rather more than that. The program is anchored by modern arrangements of traditional carols such as Once in Royal David’s City and O Come All Ye Faithful. But much of the material is more adventurous and many pieces were composed only recently. Of particular interest is In the Bleak Midwinter, a setting of a poem by Christina Rossetti. Singers and their audiences will be familiar with this piece either in the setting of Harold Darke or in the much finer one by Gustav Holst. But this CD gives us a contemporary alternative by the Welsh composer Paul Mealor. That anthem is very fine, as are a number of others. An older kind of music is represented in the songs of Mendelssohn and Herbert Howells.

The Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Peter, a Montreal church, is an impressive body of 45 singers, in part professional, in part amateur. I recognized two names: that of the lead baritone Nathaniel Watson, whom we have often heard in Toronto, and that of the alto Duncan Campbell, who is the son of the soprano Kathryn Domoney and the baritone David Campbell. The choice of material is adventurous. It achieves the rare feat of presenting traditional Christmas music but also so much more than that.

Hans de Groot – The WholeNote

Music for Several Instruments
October 11, 2017

Christmas with subtlety and grace

I've talked before about the two tendencies that enhance a Christmas album, familiarity and novelty, and this new ATMA release has them in exactly the right mix. Paul Mealor's In the Bleak Midwinter, written in 2016, is a lovely setting for choir a cappella and baritone soloist. Besides its musical merits, hearing the new version rather than the accustomed ones of Gustav Holst and Harold Darke has the effect of sending one back to Christina Rossetti's sublime original poem. The outstanding Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, under the direction of Jean-Sebastien Vallée, sings this song with subtlety and grace, but also with the fervour of a community that understands "snow on snow, snow on snow". The 1994 setting of Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen has attained classic status, and shows up fairly often in Christmas programs; again, it's beautifully sung here. Another new classic, Eric Whitacre's Lux aurumque, which gives the disc its title, sounds as good in this live performance as some top choirs. It's a tribute to Jean-Sebastien Vallée and his talented singers that the more erudite numbers co-exist so comfortably with the more traditional choir-and-organ pieces such as David Willcocks' arrangements of Once in Royal David's City and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

Organist Jonathan Oldengarm plays a major role in a number of choral numbers, but also has quite a few solo numbers. He plays an impressive instrument of nearly 7,000 pipes, made in 1931 by Casavant Frères of St. Hyacinthe. His interpretation of Sigrid Karg-Elert's Choral-Improvisation on In dulci jubilo which ends the disc is quite outstanding. ATMA has put together a winner for Christmas.

Dean Frey - Music for Several Instruments