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Classical Music Review

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Evolutionary Spirits


Composers: Various
Conductor: Donald Nally
Performed by: The Crossing
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 28 June 2019

Evolutionary Spirits sees Grammy Award-winning chamber choir The Crossing perform innovative works of six contemporary composers. Ranging from songs of praise from the Biblical era to present day, and from contemporary poetry to the reimagining of a Shakespearean sonnet, this 12 track album (56 min, 50 sec) explores humanity in all its facets...

Evolutionary Spirits opens with Edie Hill’s Poem for 2084 which is a reflection on the state of the world through the dynamic effects of soaring soprano lines over mystical harmonies below.

Gregory W. Brown sets Latin and English texts, shifting between simple and complex textures, producing otherworldly-sounding performances in the contemplative 'Vida Aquam' and the ethereal 'Five Women Bathing in Moonlight'.

James Shrader’s celestial-sounding 'Angels Sang with Mirth and Glee' creates a gentle, inspiring listening experience.

Christopher J. Hoh brings both a reimagination of Shakespeare’s famous 'My Mistress’ Eyes' and a homage to the groundbreaking composer Elliott Carter with 'To Elliott'. Jonathan Sheffer draws on an ancient Hebrew prayer in his 'y’did nefesh'. Bruce Babcock’s meditative 'Be Still' reflects on 'Psalm 46:10', with shimmering textures throughout the five-minute meditation on just eight words.

The Crossing approach each track with the same gusto and passion that you'd expect from such a renowned group and it's a testament to Donald Nally's artistic direction that these diverse works flow well together here. If you have a weakness for choral music then you'll fall in love with Evolutionary Spirits.

Track listing:

Edie Hill
01 - 'Poem for 2084' (5:39)

Gregory W. Brown
02 - 'Entrai, pastores, entrai' (5:25)

James Shrader
03 - 'Angels Sang With Mirth and Glee' (3:09)

Bruce Babcock
04 - 'Be Still' (4:43)

Gregory W. Brown
Vidi Aquam
05 - 'To Stir Up Our Wits' (3:02)
06 - 'Observing Nature' (7:58)
07 - 'Asking of Nature' (5:02)

Jonathan Sheffer
08 - 'y’did nefesh' (5:37)

Christopher J. Hoh
09 - 'To Elliott' (2:32)

Christopher J. Hoh
10 - 'My Mistress’ Eyes' (5:40)

Edie Hill
11 - 'Marvellous Error!' (3:07)

Gregory W. Brown
12 - 'Five Women Bathing in Moonlight' (5:03)


Darren Rea

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