Tuesday 17 March 2015

Sacred Songs of Life and Love Review by Holland Time

"The performances delivered by the South Dakota Chorale and conductor Brian A. Schmidt are of the highest standards"

We are pleased to see that our release of 'Sacred Songs of Life and Love' with South Dakota Chorale and Brian A. Schmidt has attracted media attention. Here we would like to share the review of the release written by Mimis Chrysomallis and published on Holland Times on it's March issue.


In these times of fast-paced consumption and easy-to-digest music, a recording of serene chorale music may seem quite offbeat. Yet this is exactly why high quality releases like this one manage to stand out among the abundance of musical output that is constantly seeking our attention. Recently release by PENTATONE (a Dutch classical music label specializing in high end, 5-channel surround sound recordings) and recorded inside St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Sacred Songs of LIfe and Love brings together some of the most captivating works of contemporary Scandinavian and Baltic choral music, appealing primarily - but not strictly - to classical music aficionados and audiophiles.

perhaps the most well known artist represented in this compilation is Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, largely popular for his minimalist works and popularized  through pieces such as Spiegel in Spiegel and Tabula Rasa. Although Pärt's music is characterized by variety of styles, his preoccupation with choral music, Gregorian chant, and Renaissance polyphonic art has been crucial to his development as a composer. This affinity with choral music is perfectly demonstrated in the works chosen in this album, as in his Magnificat and Sieben Magnificat Antiphonen, where simplicity and skilfully combined with profound feeling.
Pärt's enchanting compositions aside, Sacred Songs of Life and Love also offers a first rate opportunity to get acquainted with some lesser known yet splendid contemporary choral music, The dynamic range and expressive devices employed in Four Songs of Love by Swedish composer Sven David Sandströn show the boundless possibilites of the human voices as a musical instrument, while the contained emotion found in little gems like O salutaris hostia by riks Ešenvalds, I am the Rose of Sharon by Ivo Antognini, or Algirdas Martinaitis' Alleluia make for a truly absorbing listening experience. The album also includes two selections from Kunt Nystedt's Prayers of Kierkegaard, a work of highly contemplative and reverent nature by the recently deceased Norwegian composer, whose style was heavily influenced by Gregorian chant and the music of Palestrina. The performances delivered by the South Dakota Chorale and conductor Brian A. Schmidt are of the highest standards, with special credits to multiple Grammy-winning producer Blanton Alspaugh for shaping a full, crystalline sound. Those who decide to devote something short of an hour to hearing these Sacred Songs of Life and Love can expect plenty of rewards in return; from awe, mysticism, and reverence to pure bliss and serenity.
Mimis Chrysomallis