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Published on Feb 6, 2017
Both the New Hampshire Master Chorale and the Manchester Choral Society elevate the works of composer-in-residence Jonathan Santore on THERE ARE MANY OTHER LEGENDS, an expansive collection of works from Santore’s choral catalog. Each piece highlights the composer’s impressive command of choral writing and the ensemble’s traditions.
Through their texts and other premises, several works on THERE ARE MANY OTHER LEGENDS are referential pieces, some alluding to other works of vocal music while others recall the mythology of distant cultures. Requiem: Learning to Fall, a work which is both internally and externally referential, yielding a compelling, multi-layered musical text. The composition demonstrates Santore’s command of vocal texture and ability to add character to the choir’s text through instrumental accompaniments.
At the heart of Requiem is the cyclical recurrence of multiple musical and textual ideas, including the ancient “dies irae” Gregorian Chant and various musical cues of Santore’s creation. The most important of these is his setting of the word “alleluia,” which opens the work and returns multiple times as a positive counterbalance to the darker, more dissonant instrumental representations of the “dies irae” chant.
Requiem and Forgetting are the album’s only two pieces containing orchestral arrangements, featuring the New Hampshire-based Manchester Choral Society and Orchestra. However, several of the pieces on THERE ARE MANY OTHER LEGENDS are written for both choir and additional instrumentation, including strings, piano, and soprano saxophone. While choral music is the focus of this album, Santore’s instrumental writing and orchestration for heterogeneous ensembles should not be overlooked.
For example, Santore’s three-movement work O Sweet Spontaneous Earth evocatively pits the choir against a string trio as it conveys its transformative musical and textual form. In this way, O Sweet Spontaneous Earth stands alongside Requiem as the album’s most structurally nuanced and narratively cogent works.