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Manifesto (Cantus)

Cantus (Signum Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Choral works by YM Barnwell, J Gregorio, S Guillaume, D Lang, L Larsen, Rudoi, Snider, Takach, Treece and Warland
Signum Classics SIGCD 686   69:40 mins

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What happens if you type ‘I want to be with someone who…’ into Google? David Lang’s Manifesto, the mesmerising title work of this new album from low-voice choir Cantus, uses just this ‘auto-complete’ method to generate its text, creating lyrics at once heartbreaking and affirming. The piece also stands as something of a statement of intent for the whole release, which explores the gamut of human relationships ‘with our friends, lovers, family and the divine’ through song.

Cantus have long championed new music for tenors, baritones and basses, and this recording showcases their commitment: almost all ten works featured were composed for the choir and every track is a world-premiere recording. Among many highlights, Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Psalm of the Soil explores the idea of home with searing harmonies, delivered here with splendid warmth of tone and crisp ensemble. Translated as ‘mess’ in Haitian, Gagòt by Sydney Guillaume is an imaginative depiction of emotional chaos that gradually transforms into ‘the calm and peace that comes with resolution’; this challenging score is met here with precision and heart.

Beautifully performed throughout, the album’s a powerful hymn to human connection in its many forms.

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Kate Wakeling