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Early American Choral Music, Vol. 1
His Majestie's Clerkes
Early American Choral Music, Vol. 1
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
 
William Billings (1746-1800) was one of the first important composers born in America. A leather tanner by trade who taught himself composition, Billings left behind some lovely, unique music that contains early indication...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: His Majestie's Clerkes
Title: Early American Choral Music, Vol. 1
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Hmf Classical Exp.
Release Date: 5/8/2001
Album Type: Import, Original recording reissued
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 713746704827

Synopsis

Amazon.com
William Billings (1746-1800) was one of the first important composers born in America. A leather tanner by trade who taught himself composition, Billings left behind some lovely, unique music that contains early indications of American musical independence. It often doesn't sound like European models. Today, Billings's music survives mostly in Southern shape-note singing, with its exciting raw tone and rhythmic vitality. But as Paul Hillier's selection demonstrates, Billings shouldn't just be characterized as musical folk artist. The "Funeral Anthem: Samuel the Priest" has harmonies so poignant that they remind us of Bach, and the brief "David's Lamentation" is a superb piece of musical characterization, heartbreakingly effective. Despite the ensemble's name, it's thoroughly American. The performances find a good middle ground between sounding too folksy and sounding too cultivated, and the group's diction is clear enough that we can do without the texts, which came with the original edition. This is a lovely disc, which will come to most listeners as a revelation. It's also an outstanding bargain. --Leslie Gerber

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CD Reviews

A great find--worth more than its price
Joel Buursma | 09/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is all music by William Billings, one of the giant figures of early American church music. It is sung by a fine group that specializes in early music. The music is often hearty and pleasing, and the textual themes deal with early colonial life (e.g., harvest & the coming winter) and sometimes complex theology (e.g., pietistic interpretations of the Song of Solomon). The overall sound of the music is straightfoward, as it was no doubt to appeal to the common folk (new world Protestants). But don't let that fool you--there's high quality construction in these hymns that elevates them above folk music. Some of the songs really grab you & stay with you. This is a gift & an important part of our American heritage & culture."
Interesting and Lovely Music
R. Albin | Ann Arbor, Michigan United States | 02/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This CD was issued originally as "A Land of Pure Delight" on the Harmonia Mundi label. Billings was the first major American composer, an apparently self taught composer with a distinctive and powerful style. A real American original, Billings' work has several interesting features. He did wonderful things writing for choirs and some of his work seems to sound like earlier, polyphonic music. This recording has features a selection of fine pieces. Lovely performances."
This was our country's music c.30 decades ago!
Daniel Ponder | WAKE FOREST, NC United States | 10/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am fairly new to this series, but I now own 3 cds in this series: Anna Mag. Bach Book, Festive barouque christmas and now this one. I have been looking for a cd with this kind of music, and now my search is done. I enjoy this cd very much, but the only down side is that this cd is too short."