Gloriæ Dei Cantores
The Massachusetts choir Gloriae Dei Cantores, whose name means Singers to the Glory of God, specializes in religious choral music of various eras, from medieval to contemporary. The group is affiliated with the Church of the Transfiguration in the town of Orleans, on Cape Cod, where it performs weekly services; it has also toured and recorded widely, both a cappella and with major symphonic ensembles. Gloriae Dei Cantores is a mixed-gender adult choir with 40 members that dates back to 1988 under that name; it coalesced from an amateur group on Cape Cod led by Elizabeth Patterson, who took the choir to Britain for studies with conductors Stephen Cleobury and George Guest. The two were impressed by the small choir's quality and urged Patterson to establish it as a professional group with the new name. (The singers still receive no salary, however.) The new group did not take long to make an international impact. In 1989, the group toured Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, and what was then Yugoslavia, and has made several other domestic and international tours, including one with the Boston Pops in 1996 and another with the Munich Symphony, to 16 American cities, performing Mozart's Requiem in D minor, K. 626. They have performed the same work in Russia with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. The group has appeared in 23 countries. Patterson remained the choir's director for many years and still appears in an emeritus capacity; she was succeeded by Richard K. Pugsley. Gloriae Dei Cantores' recording career also began in 1989 with an Easter Day Mass recording featuring music by Palestrina and Jean Langlais. The choir's recorded output has been both voluminous and broad. The group has released more than 60 albums as of the late 2010s, all sacred; they are divided between thematic programs and recordings of specific repertory works. Among the latter group is a 2012 recording of Alan Hovhaness' From the Ends of the Earth. Most of the choir's recordings have appeared on its own Gloriae Dei Cantores label, which has been distributed internationally by Naxos since 2016. In 2017, Gloriae Dei Cantores, under Peter Jermihov, released a recording of Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil on the Paraclete label; this recording was nominated for a Grammy award in 2019.
© James Manheim /TiVo
© James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released March 3, 2017 | Gloriae Dei Cantores
There are Russians (and Ukrainians) involved in this recording of Rachmaninoff's great sacred work, the All-Night Vigil, Op. 37, but the bulk of the singers are American. What you miss in this recording is the distinctive sound of a Russian choir, with its rumbling basses and luxurious low female singers. What you get in exchange is a great deal. You pay your money, and you take your choice. Begin with the booklet, which lays out not only the history of the work, but the aims of the present interpretation, and the links between the two, in convincing detail. Among the goals of this particular recording is to embody the committed Christianity that the conductor and performers find in the work; your attitude toward this will naturally depend on your own background, but this is a sensitive, even impassioned performance by any standard. The performers are aided by the tempo choices of the conductor, Peter Jermihov. Tempo in this work is a matter of debate, for the composer declined to include metronome markings. The booklet presents an interesting theory as to why this was so, and Jermihov builds persuasive musical arguments for it, staying on the faster side and avoiding ponderous depths in favor of a swelling forward impulse, as in the "Bogoroditse Devo" (as good a place as any to start sampling). Jermihov deserves extra credit for getting a consistent sound out of the members of four very different choirs: Gloriæ Dei Cantores, the St. Romanos Cappella, the Patriarch Tikhon Choir, and the Washington Master Chorale. The Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans, Massachusetts, the home base of Gloriæ Dei Cantores, is a sympathetic space for the work, and engineer Keith O. Johnson wisely backs off from them a bit, allowing the dimensions of the music to emerge. Not necessarily a definitive recording of the All-Night Vigil, but one that certainly demands to be reckoned with. © TiVo