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Classical Music Review

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Clay Jug


Composer: Edie Hill
Conductor: Donald Nally
Performed by: The Crossing
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 10 February 2017

Navona Records release the choral music of Minnesota-based composer Edie Hill. Clay Jug is a compendium of large and small works for a cappella choir and choir accompanied by chamber ensemble...

Edie Hill offers a diverse collection of works on Clay Jug. She manages to shift the listener’s perspective of the choir from to track to track. For example, in 'The Fenix', Hill moves the choir in between the music’s foreground and background to accommodate a vocal soloist. In 'From the Wingbone of the Swan' and 'Clay Jug' – an excerpt from a large work of Hill’s entitled A Sound Like This – three or four musical layers converse within the choir itself, or between the choir and accompanying instruments.

'The Fenix', 'Alma beata et Bella' and 'Cancion de el Alma' draw their texts from very old European sources dating back to the 10th, 15th and 16th centuries, respectively. 'The Fenix', uses the poetry’s original medieval Anglo-Saxon language. Similarly, 'Alma beata et Bella' pays homage to Renaissance-era musical tropes contemporaneous to its text’s origins.

For me, choir music can elate my soul, or leave me cold, depending on how its performed. Here, on every track, I found something beautiful to get excited about; something to touch the soul... and to me, that's what classical music should be all about.

The album contains 8 tracks (47 min, 43 sec) and while each work might be very different in style and approach, the end result is quite breathtaking.


Darren Rea

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