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Cantus: Song of a Czech Dvorak and Janacek for Men's Voices.

Cantus Song of a Czech Dvorak and Janacek for Men's Voices

Cantus male choir, Timothy Cheek, Sonja Kaye Thompson--piano four hands. Text: English, Czech. Recorded: July 2013, Concert Hall at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, USA. Released: 2013. IT : 75:05. DDD. 1 CD Cantus CTS-1213.


The all-male choir Cantus, founded in 1998 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is made up of a mere nine members, performs without a conductor and, in addition to giving frequent concerts, pursues education activities. Its repertoire is diversified in terms of style and genre, which reflects in the choir's concert programmes. In 2009, Cantus received the prestigious Chorus America Margaret Hillis Award; two years later, its work with students earned it the Chorus America Education Outreach Award. In the 2010/11 season, the choir was selected as the ensemble-in-residence of Minnesota Public Radio.

Given that at the present time Cantus is considered to be one of the US's finest male choirs, it is a delight to discover that its almost 20-CD discography includes one featuring Antonin Dvorak's and Leos Janacek' works for men's voices. The album contains recordings of Dvorak's Choral Songs for Male Voices, B 66; Song of a Czech, B 73; Three Male Choruses with Piano, Op. 43, B 76 (From a Bouquet of Slavonic Folksongs); and Five Male Choruses, Op. 27, B 87; and Janacek's Veni, Sancte Spiritus, JW 11/13; Four Male Choruses, JW IV/17; Ave Maria, JW IV/16; Three Male Choruses, JW IV/19; and True Love, JW IV/8. All the pieces are "a capella" apart from the Dvorak cycle

From a Bouquet of Slavonic Folksongs, which is accompanied by piano four hands. Cantus has a splendidly homogenous sound, evincing itself from the very first chords of the opening track, Janacek's Veni, Sancte Spiritus--perfectly tonally balanced, rich and beautifully soft, with the singers resourcefully working with the agogics and the dynamic structure of the musical phrases (enthralling decrescendos). What is more, their Czech pronunciation is excellent, refined by Timothy Cheek, one of the most respected American specialists in this field, who, together with Sonja Kaye Thompson, also provided the piano accompaniment in Dvorak's cycle From a Bouquet of Slavonic Folksongs. Commensurate to the recording's quality is the quality of the CD booklet, containing expert notes written by David R. Beveridge and the lyrics of all the pieces, furnished with English translations.

Veroslav Nemec

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Author:Nemec, Veroslav
Publication:Czech Music
Article Type:Sound recording review
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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