Cappella SF Timeless CD Review
Timeless: Ten Centuries of Music
By Niels Swinkels
In the half decade since its founding, by internationally acclaimed choral music wizard and 'chorus whisperer' Ragnar Bohlin, professional chamber chorus Cappella SF has firmly established itself as a major jewel in the Bay Area choral music crown, with its enchanting, beautifully programmed concerts, and now with 'Timeless', their third cd on the Delos label, after the Christmas album 'Light of Gold', and 'Facing West', with music by Conrad Susa and the ensemble’s composer-in-residence, David Conte.
'Timeless' contains repertoire that spans 'Ten Centuries of Music' (the album's subtitle), from the Benedictine abbess, mystic and composer Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) to music by living composers like American Eric Whitacre (b. 1970) and his Norwegian-born colleague Ola Gjeilo (b.1978). The latter's 'Veni Sancte Spiritus' finds its world premiere recording here.
In between, among others: music from Benjamin Britten (the beautifully austere 'Chorale after an Old French Carol' - my favorite track); a sacred motet by Swedish composer Ludwig Norman (1831-1885); plus a generous helping of works in German, among which my other favorite track: the 'Innsbruck-triptych ', three settings of the same popular melody 'Innsbruck ich muss dich lassen' (Innsbruck, I must leave you), by Heinrich Isaac, Michael Praetorius and Johann Sebastian Bach, covering two centuries of musical styles and approaches.
The recording itself is, as can be expected, superb, both technically and musically. And it showcases what Cappella SF is good at: simply everything. Listen with headphones for maximum enjoyment of Cappella SF's rich dynamics and immense clarity of sound!