For the Beauty of the Earth: a music review

Gabriel V is a brass ensemble made up of women and men, ” unified in their commitments to the monastic life” (linear notes, 4). Often accompanying Gloriæ Dei Cantores, the choir of the Church of the Transfiguration (the Community of Jesus) in Orleans, MA, their newest recording For the Beauty of the Earth exhibits the beauty of God’s creation and redemption as only the combination of brass, organ and percussion can. Organist Sharonrose Pfieffer, Church of the Transfiguration organist, is the organist for these recordings.

for-the-beauty-of-the-earthHere is a look at the tracks:

  • Luminosity -an aural meditation on the vastness and splendor of space (composed by Anthony DiLorenzo)
  • Earthscape -Canadian Composer David Marlatt’s work inspired by the view of earth from space.
  • Windscape – Another Marlatt piece depicting the energy, rhythm and unpredictability of the Wind (this one is one of my favorites)
  • Fantasy on “O Sons and Daughters” – Composer Walter Pelz’s score for organ, brass and tympani exclaming the redemption of creation, “O Sons and daughters of the King, whom heavenly hosts in glory sing, today the grave has lost its sting” (linear notes,7-8).
  • Salvum fac populum tuum (trans. Save Your People) – Charles-Marie Widor’s  1917 composition balances the gravity and horror of war with the certainty that good conquers evil (8)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy – John Cunrow’s arrangement of a well loved hymn
  • Prelude on a Festive Hymn– Written by Donald Coakley, and arranged by David Marlatt, this piece is based on a 1995 hymn tune originally commissioned by St William’s Roman Catholic Church in Philidelphia
  • Meditation: The Light of the World – New Zealand Composer Sir Dean Goffin’s hymn based work combining two hymns reflecting on Christ standing at the door of a believer’s heart (Rev. 3:20).
  • Benediction—God Be With You – William Gordon’s arrangement of Ralph Vaugh William’s hymn tune Randolph proclaiming God’s blessing until we meet again.
  • Toccata from “Fifth Sympathy” – Windor’s organist showpiece (as the son of an organist I grew up with this piece). This arrangement, by Egene Ellsworth double voices the organ score with trumpets, trombones and tuba.
  • Tone Poem—A Psalm of Praise (Psalm 100) – Based on the hymn Praise My Soul King of Heaven, phrases and snippets of the tune are ‘playfully traded’ before a triumphal finally which culminates the hymn tune stated in its entirety.
  • Prelude on a Hymn of Praise – The recording is closed with a prelude. Curnow’s arrangement of  Conrad Kocher’s hymn For the Beauty of the Earth (the title piece).

This is an exceptional recording. Each piece selected has a majestic quality and carries the listener toward doxology. Gerard Manley Hopkins happy phrase, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God” reflects this collection well. The arrangements are powerful but ultimately joyful. I give this recording four stars.

Note: I was provided with a copy of the CD by Paraclete Recordings in exchange for my honest review. I was not obligated to give a positive review

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