Kong-yu Wong composer
Scott Anthony Shell composer
William Copper composer
Deborah Anderson composer
Theresa Koon composer
Hans Bakker composer
Santiago Kodela composer
Christopher J. Hoh composer
Garth Baxter composer
Kühn Choir of Prague | Lenka Navrátilová conductor
Vox Futura | Andrew Shenton conductor
Judging by Navona's VOICES OF EARTH AND AIR VOL III, this century is facing a significant paradigm shift in contemporary composition. The third installment of the trailblazing series again showcases contemporary choral music, and once more, it is mesmerizing – mesmerizingly tonal and aesthetic.
Cantonese-born Kong-Yu Wong introduces the album with Three Lyrics of Lu Fang Weng. The work consists of a prelude and three choral works based on poems by the 12th-century Chinese poet, which are so timeless in nature that they might well have been written yesterday. Ever careful to preserve the clarity of his choral composition, Kong-Yu Wong subtly frames these pieces with a solo piano part. The poetic theme is continued with Gitanjali 1, Scott Anthony Shell's interpretation of spiritual poetry by mystic Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. Despite the ethereal nature of the text, the music is accessible, evoking a sense of cosmopolitan sanctity.
William Copper carries on the spiritual subject with his Ave Regina Caelorum, a beautiful example of compositional craftsmanship. Quite a unique take on what could be called a bel canto choral work, it dazzles with impeccable structure and intonation. Deborah Anderson is featured with two sublime compositions. Windows is a work for women's choir, based on a poem by a French priest. Colorado Prayer is scored for mixed choir and based on a text by a traveling minister.
Mother of Exiles, written by Theresa Koon, aims not only to address the complex issue of immigration, but to offer a voice to immigrants who lack one. It is centered around Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus, which is inscribed in the Statue of Liberty. Hans Bakker strikes a philosophical note with Rat (English: "counsel"), based on a life advice-giving poem by little-known German mystic Joseph Anton Schneiderfranken. Even more metaphysical is his second featured work, Ich habe den Menschen gesehen (I have seen Man [in his deepest form]), a reflective poem by the late 19th-century wordsmith Christian Morgenstern.
Santiago Kodela's The Gulag Within may well be the most modernist piece on this album. With inexorable clarity, it illustrates the various facets of human dilemma, showcasing various limits that are often subconsciously self-imposed. Music at the Heart of Creation by Christopher J. Hoh aims to portray the centrality of music to both spiritual worship and to Life itself.
Noted for his ability to set lyrics to music to enhance the poem's intent, Garth Baxter rounds off the album with Still Falls the Rain, a lyrical, powerful piece based on one of Edith Sitwell's best- known poems. It is a plea to God in times of strife, mirroring the trials and tribulations of the Second World War, but also advocating a message of hope.