Wednesday, April 1, 2009

So I told my doctor that I was having trouble sleeping because of some weird dreams. Sometimes I dream I'm a yurt and sometimes I dream I'm a tepee.
He said, "You need to relax. You're two tents."

Now for some relaxing music.

You know, you don't have to actually go to heaven in order to hear what it’s going to sound like. It will sound just like the choir of New College, Oxford on their CD Agnus Dei: the Music of Inner Harmony.
The mood is set by the first song, Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei, Op.11, an ethereal piece with lots of ooh-ing and aah-ing (which I really like). It's more relaxing than a massage and a bottle of wine.
The next two songs, Faure's Cantique De Jeane Racine and Missa Papae Marcelli-Kyrie by Palestrina are just as soothing.

I probably listened to this CD three or four time before I realized that a lot of these songs are sung without music. It's very slickly done with lots of layers of beautiful voices.

This CD features a great version of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus and Rachmaninov’s Ave Maria, Op. 37 No. 6. and there is a nice version of Taverner’s The Lamb, but I have to say that I like the version that Ben Philipp sings on Libera’s New Dawn album better. His has that special Libera treatment.

Maybe my favorite song is the final one, an especially slow tempo version of Miserere Mei, Deus. This one lasts for almost fifteen minutes and the young soloist has a very tender and appealing voice. I have quite a few versions of this song and they are all good but this one is special.
This is a great CD.


  1. New College!! I just bought a New College CD!

    The Barber is definitely a high point--there is an a cappella version that's strictly vocalised (no lyrics) floating about somewhere as well, but the setting of the Agnus Dei text makes it more meaningful.

    The choir is pretty big, comparatively--I just got a double CD set of them from Naxos of the Bach Johannespassion and am listening through it and another new one: the Thomanerchor's recording of the same piece--

    English pronunciation of Latin and German alike is a bit more earthy, a bit less refined--but what really strikes me in the Johannespassion (and may very well strike you in Agnus Dei) is how full and rich the whole sound is...they definitely sound larger than they probably are.

    The soprano solo parts in the Bach are also taken by one of their trebles instead--it's inspiring to listen to kids grapple with Bach, and come out (mostly) on the winning side...

  2. Yes, that's so true about the richness and fullness of this choir. I just now tried to open their web page to see just how many voices are in the choir but the site must be down. They definitely do sound large and they have a huge number of recordings.

  3. When I seen them couple years ago in concert, I believe they had around 24 sopranos and altos and a dozen men.