Distinctive and Attractive
'Snowcarols' and other
by William Ferris,
Cedille CDR 90000 101
William Ferris died in 2000 at the age of 63, leaving both sadness at his early passing and pleasure and thankfulness for a full and distinguished lifetime of work with his choral singers, and as a composer and arranger. It is appropriate that his Chorale should honour his memory at Christmas time with this collection of seasonal songs which takes its title from a sequence of five substantial choral pieces which deserve to he heard in full to appreciate the extent of their skilful invention and warm treatment of texts, ranging from traditional Anglo-Irish to Christina Rosetti's In the bleak mid winter
[listen -- track 12, 0:00-1:16]
and See amid the winter snow by Edward Caswall (wrongly spelt in the notes).
In addition there are eight other Christmas pieces, all shorter than those in the Snowcarols cycle, and all offering something distinctive and attractive -- like the long oboe solo that introduces O Mary of Graces. The Introit for the Midnight Mass is heralded by trumpets
[listen -- track 1, 0:57-2:02]
and there is a simple and poignant setting of the old Polish carol Infant holy, Infant lowly
[listen -- track 4, 0:00-0:44].
This is a good tribute to a worthy composer and choral director, and deserves a place in the collections of all choral enthusiasts. But it also provides a wider display of seasonal choral pieces for all choirs that do not already know the composer and his music. One thing is certain: Ferris knew how to make choral music work and be a joy to sing.
Copyright © 17 December 2007
Patric Standford, Wakefield UK
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Snowcarols - Christmas music by William Ferris
CDR 90000 101 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 70'25" 2007 Cedille Records
Ricardo Casteñeda, oboe; Melissa Dagley, soprano; Emily Lee, soprano; Nancy Bieschke, soprano; Cecelia Hall, contralto; Garrett Johannsen, tenor; Dan Rose, tenor; Jerry Privasky, baritone; Daniel Peretto, bass; Paul Nicholson, organ; William Ferris Chorale; Composer Festival Orchestra; Paul French, conductor
William Ferris (1937-2000): The Lord Said to Me (Introit for the Christmas Mass at Midnight); Gentle Mary; Lift Up Your Heads, O Mighty Gates; Infant Holy, Infant Lowly; O Mary of Graces; Long is Our Winter; Hail Mary; Come, Lord, and Tarry Not; Creator of the Stars of Night; Snowcarols (The snow lies thick upon the earth tonight; The snow lay on the ground; In the bleak mid-winter; See amid the winter snow; Christmas Eve)
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