American Polyphony

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American Polyphony
Polyphony, Stephen Layton

[ Hyperion / CD ]

Release Date: Saturday 25 July 2015

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An all-too-rare new recording from Polyphony and Stephen Layton presents highlights from the choral repertoire by four twentieth-century American giants: Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Randall Thompson. Framed by Thompson's understated favourites Alleluia and Fare Well, the programme includes Bernstein's Missa brevis, Copland's early set of four motets, and-of course-Barber's inimitable Agnus Dei.

"Stephen Layton's Polyphony are an always impressive choir of startling purity and clarity." (Observer)

"The peerless choir offer meticulously blended and shaped performances of 20th-century a cappella American choral works." (Sunday Times)

"This is the finest performance of Barber's Agnus Dei I've heard by any choir, live or on record…a wonderful recital, not to be missed." (BBC Music Disc of the month - August 2015)

"We have to be careful using the word "revelatory" in reviews, but that's exactly what Polyphony's performance is. It's as if Polyphony was coming to this work completely fresh, approaching it with no experience of its well-trod history nor any preconceived notion regarding its performing style or tradition, but rather as a new work, for that's how we experience it here. And for this alone (and perhaps for a couple of those Copland pieces) choral music fans can be grateful that this recording was made." (ClassicsToday April 2016)


Barber, S:
Agnus Dei
Reincarnations, Op. 16
Twelfth Night
To Be Sung on the Water, Op. 42
Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil Op. 13, No. 1
The Virgin Martyrs Op. 8 No. 1
Let Down the Bars, O Death Op. 8 No. 2

Missa Brevis
David Allsopp (countertenor), Christopher Lowrey (countertenor) & Robert Millett (percussion)

Four Motets

Thompson, R:
Fare Well 'When I lie where shades of darkness'

American Polyphony - Stephen Layton