Cornelius: Chorgesänge, Op. 11; Psalmlieder, Op. 13; Trauerchöre, Op. 9; Drei Könige, Op. 8/3

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COMPOSERS: Cornelius
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Chorgesänge, Op. 11; Psalmlieder, Op. 13; Trauerchöre, Op. 9; Drei Könige, Op. 8/3
PERFORMER: Polyphony/Stephen Layton
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67206
Liszt’s disciple Peter Cornelius died in 1874 two months short of his 50th birthday, but not before having created a respectable body of music, almost entirely vocal and nearly all little known today. The exception is the third of his Christmas Songs, ‘The Three Kings’, heard here in an arrangement by the conductor Stephen Layton. The remainder of the repertoire is unaccompanied settings for diversely constituted choirs, much of it of fine German poetry.

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Cornelius’s settings are fine, too: expertly crafted, with a masterly understanding of the possibilities of choral writing and variety of texture. Though rarely as memorable as Brahms’s compositions for choir, they are as expressive of the text and as harmonically imaginative.

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These are superior performances, Layton’s group Polyphony offering refined tone and exceptional precision, together with a careful observation of Cornelius’s dynamics and fluent phrasing. George Hall