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While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews, the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information. Click on the title to view the article.

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Libera Luminosa CD Cover
Image 2001 Warner Classics 
 

(11 November 2001) In 1999, composer Robert Prizeman released his first album, featuring a reworking of several classical pieces as well as his own compositions under the name "Libera." Following the success of "classical-crossover" artists such as Sarah Brightman, E.R.A., Lorenza Ponce, Paul Schwartz, and Emma Shaplin, Robert Prizeman opted to create his own niche in the genre by utilizing a boys choir, synthetic textures, and real symphonic instrumentation. The result was an arresting and haunting collection of melodies that were simultaneously inspiring and chilling.

Now, "Libera" have returned with their majestic follow-up effort, Luminosa. The heavenly music of "Luminosa" is the result of Robert Prizeman's careful selection and re-arrangement of songs based on the works of such composers as Beethoven, Saint Saens, Debussy, and Handel interspersed between his own original compositions. In fact, it may be argued that the best pieces on this release are actually the ones crafted by Robert Prizeman, who shows formidable talent as a classical composer.

Standout pieces include "Sacris Solemnis" (based on Symphony No. 7: Allegretto by Beethoven), with its dynamic and ever-expanding vocal arrangment accompanied by organ. "Gaudete" is a medieval-based chant that rivals any secular madrigal written during the Early Modern Period. Particular interesting is the shifting time signature and early instrumentation accompanying the vocals.

In the tradition of Faure, "Silencium" is a worshipful track that captures the austerity of monastic Catholicism and the serenity of contemplation. "Veni Sancte" is probably Robert Prizeman's most musically innovative number. Here, he demonstrates a true mastery of classical form by using a Gregorian-influenced vocal line that evolves into a polyphonic dream.

Credit must surely be given to the incredibly skilled boys choir and solists selected by Robert Prizeman to perform his work. The inside pages of the CD feature a photo of the group of young boys in the choir who look as typically energetic, playful and distracted in their street clothes as any group of boys might. However, the emphasis on such casualness appears to have been purposely cultivated in order to draw attention to the fact that these boys, while appearing commonplace, are anything but.

In fact, after hearing Luminosa, one recalls that the beauty of the human voice is truly the greatest of all instruments--and that such an instrument may be housed in the most unexpected of physical frames.--Justin Elswick

Read further information, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Clearly worth a journey, this album is a must listen!

 
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