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Man Lives and Exists

Maulbronner Kammerchor – cond Jurgen Budday


K & K Verllaganstalt – KuK 99

Recorded June 2006 – 1 CD – 56 minutes


Biebl – Ave Maria

Britten – A Hymn to the Virgin

Part – Which is the Son of …

Lauridsen – O magnum mysterium

Sandstrom – Gloria

Buchenberg – Ich bin das Brot des Lebens

Reger – 3 Motets from Op 138

Mendelssohn – Hora est


This timely recording from a world- renowned choir brings together ten a-capella motets for the season of Advent drawn from the works of a wide range of mostly 20th century composers.


Each piece divides the choir into a number of sections and as the notes inform us, the effect is “heightened appreciably by positioning the performers in different areas of the church”. In some cases a separate smaller choir is placed high up in the gallery, in others mixed groupings are positioned far apart throughout the entire area.


The acoustics of the great nave of the Romanesque-Gothic monastery church allow the voices to build up in vast tiers of sound, almost as elaborate as the architecture. Mendelssohn's Hora est and Biebl's Ave Maria both sound fantastic, but I found the sheer magnitude of the sound effect somewhat out of keeping with the scale on which some of the pieces had been conceived. In Britten's Hymn to the Virgin, where the lines of the text alternate between English and Latin, the repartee needs to be far crisper.


For those who don't know it, the real joy and marvel of the collection is Arvo Part's Which is the Son of … which enumerates the progenitors of Jesus back through 77 generations to Adam and God himself. Held within a very close range of harmonies this is a superb example of minimalist writing, and the 8-part choir, grouped well together on this occasion, give a memorable performance.


Presentation matches the elegant style of the K & K edition, and this disc makes a useful “sampler”.


Serena Fenwick