Can you imagine that moment when you have been climbing a steep hill, head down, putting your back into all the effort of getting to the top. Then suddenly, you reach the summit. You stand up, chest heaving. You look around you. And with an enormous thump you are assaulted by the beauty of the scene, the clarity of the view and the piercing otherness of the air, the smell and the light.
Such a feeling may also be found in the treasure that is the recording of Polyphony’s Whitacre: Cloudburst and other choral works.
As you can read from their website, Polyphony are a small professional English choir, and they have many recordings to their name. This one is particularly interesting, I think, because much of Eric Whitacre’s works are settings of poems to the most beautiful music. Here is a link to the sleeve notes of the CD where you can read more about the background to his approach as a composer, and also the tracks, with the lyrics themselves, while here is a link where you can here excerpts of each track.
I have tried to pick out my favourite tracks for you to mention in this post, but it is so hard for me to do so. I love everything about the whole album. I love the poetry. I love the dischords which resolve into the heart-meltingly beautiful harmonies. I love the deep bass parts and the soaring sopranos.
When I am listening to this, it takes my breath away. It clears my mind and lets in room for that magnificent view, golden strains of music floating atop sunlit valleys. And while I am there, I might manage to grasp a tiny piece of that wonderful heady otherness to sew inside my jacket and clasp tightly to myself when need be.