Seven Words from the Cross, the most recent issue of the ever-surprising Sono Luminus label, traverses several countries, spanning music from 18th century Americana to a recent composition by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, an extraordinarily gifted Icelandic composer previously unknown by this writer. Matthew Guard is the enterprising artistic director, program notes writer, programmer, conductor and general factotum at the helm of the Boston-based Skylark, a world-class chamber choir made up of eighteen voices and one musical soul, back this time with a CD of sacred choral music.
Throughout sixteen tracks, Guard and the impeccable Skylark singers take us on a musically inspired and spiritually inspiring journey that mixes unforeseen discoveries with fortuitous reencounters with the familiar. Skylark delivers neither a ho-hum Were you there? nor a shallow Deep River. Instead conductor Matthew Guard mines for the unpredictable while ever idiomatically serving the music, be they hymns by 18th century American composer William Billings, tried and true spirituals and traditional tunes, a 12th century work by Hildegarde von Bingen, or a portion of a Poulenc motet.
A shout out to finest among the finest, soloists Carrie Cheron, in Were you there? and baritone Dana Whiteside, in Just as I am, who book-end the CD, she with a silvery-voiced soprano and he with a soulful sound, both but two of the eighteen solo-caliber singers who make up this fast rising choral ensemble.
Sono Luminus has released Seven Words from the Cross as a CD/Blue Ray combo. As with all products of this company, the packaging is elegant, the program notes and translations flawless and the engineering first class.
Welcome back, Skylark!