Luminous Laurdisen

Lux Aeterna / Madrigali / Ave Maria / Ubi Caritas

I have for several years been enchanted with Morten Lauridsen’s choral music, especially his Lux Aeterna for chorus and orchestra, based on Latin texts from the Requiem and other liturgies. It was written for and first recorded by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. There is a new recording on the Hyperion label by the British ensemble Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia, conducted by the tireless Stephen Layton (see the entry here about The Veil of the Temple.)

The Los Angeles performance could be considered “authoritative,” since it was supervised by the composer and conducted by Paul Salamunovich, who commissioned the work. But if anything, the Polyphony performance is richer, smoother, more precise (partly because they are a smaller chorus), and much “tighter” than the big L.A. chorus. The sound and blend are indeed luminous, reflecting the “eternal light” of the title. The new recording also has several other smaller works, including several Italian madrigals patterned after those of the late Italian Renaissance by Monteverdi and Gesualdo. It is in these a capella works that Polyphony shines.