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Klassic-Heute Magazine (Germany)

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

General Impression: 10
(highest ratings)

Choral music by the contemporary American composer and pianist William McClelland takes center stage in this recording by the William Appling Singers & Orchestra, an excellent ensemble of New York City instrumentalists and singers who are especially noteworthy for promoting contemporary American music.

In its eclecticism, McClelland's musical language is particularly American–if I may say so from a European perspective. It is drawn from widely diverse sources and is inspired by jazz and gospel, Scottish-Irish folk music, popular ballads as well as the long and fruitful tradition of romantic Anglo-American choral music. McClelland's compositional personality, however, succeeds in giving this amalgam consistency and a raison d'être. His style lends itself remarkably well to choral works, his musical means simple but no less effective, his harmonies full of energy and color. From plain, hymn-like a cappella arrangements to choral ballads accompanied by various instruments, the pieces cover a broad spectrum. The texts that are set are among the great treasures of American poetry, including works by Edna St. Vincent Millay and E.E. Cummings. Personally, I was especially moved by the closing work, Good Speaking, which presents the profoundly human message of the text in a plain yet affecting form.

The level of interpretation and the excellence of the recording are matchless; the music resounds with the dedicated passion of the singers and instrumentalists. I only wish the record label had supplied a translation of the verses. If it had, this fantastic production would no doubt be able to enthrall an even wider group of fans. A wonderful CD, one which I will certainly listen to many, many times!

                                                                                                                                                         - Heinz Braun

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