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Cornelius: The Three Kings and Other Choral Music
Peter Cornelius, Stephen Layton, Polyphony
Cornelius: The Three Kings and Other Choral Music
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1


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A revelation
Mark Swinton | 01/09/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Church and cathedral choirs all over Britain (and further afield, I suspect) will be familiar with the name of Peter Cornelius because of his short work for solo baritone and double choir, "The Three Kings." That work, in a "re-Germanicised" version, is presented on this disc - the rest of the programme is quite a revelation...Cornelius clearly had a great love for the poetry of Goethe and his contemporaries, and many of these poems appear in the partsongs recorded here. There are whole cycles of partsongs in this programme; "Lieber" is a setting of three songs about Love, whilst "Drei Chorgesange" represents a more liberal choice of texts. There are also individual songs, including the (perhaps misleadingly-titled) "Requiem" that opens the disc. A very arresting work, "Drei Psalmlieder," turns out to be a transcription for voices of various keyboard works by J. S. Bach! All these works are written in a richly textured manner, exploring some of the utterly delicious and powerfully expressive harmonic language common amongst German lieder composers of the nineteenth century. This is certainly a must for Romantics!Polyphony, directed by Stephen Layton, show their vocal abilities in a wholly favourable way throughout this programme. Cornelius' music demands clarity, expression and sympathy, but in carefully balanced proportions. The singers on this recording are all blessed with stellar talents in this respect: they keep you attentive in each and every song, guiding you through the music's natural flow as only the best of choirs can. The only problem I have with this CD is that it proves you can, perhaps, have too much of a good thing. I have taken part in concerts of German lieder myself, so I am no stranger to the repertoire, but even with a programme as imaginative and a performance as excellent as this, I cannot help but feel that it seems somewhat monochrome. However, once you get used to it, this really is an admirable disc. Very good indeed - congratulations to Polyphony and to Hyperion!"