"I can’t imagine a more diverse palette of sounds, styles and colours than the three composers on this recording. They are unmistakably Argentinian yet tantalisingly different. Between them they represent the vibrant fusion of cultures that exist in Argentina today. In order to give full justice to their music, we researched their personal tastes, sources and sound worlds, looking for the influences that shaped them."
Ernest John Moeran was born in London but grew up in Norfolk and had strong ties with Ireland. While still a student at the Royal College of Music he was inspired by a performance of Vaughan Williams’s Norfolk Rhapsody that seemed “to breathe the very spirit of the English countryside”, and was soon collecting folksongs for himself. Moeran’s transcriptions were taken from English and Irish traditional singers with both rural and seafaring backgrounds, rescuing music and words both entertainingly earthy and sublimely beautiful which would otherwise have died with the artists who performed them.
Contacted by phone at his home just south of San Francisco, Chester Thompson is quick in his response to a question about a record he made in three hours on a Sunday afternoon fifty years ago, Powerhouse. 'I was a young man, and it was an opportunity to show people that I could play a Hammond B-3 organ.' Little did Thompson know then that he was showing people who would place him on an unexpected career path into the whirlwind of pop music.
An all-too-rare new recording from Polyphony and Stephen Layton presents highlights from the choral repertoire by four twentieth-century American giants: Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Randall Thompson. Framed by Thompson’s understated favourites Alleluia and Fare Well, the programme includes Bernstein’s Missa brevis, Copland’s early set of four motets, and—of course—Barber’s inimitable Agnus Dei.