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Musikanten

Sacred Choral Music of Robert Evett (2001)

4.7

July 9, 2002

Tuning / Blend 5.0
Energy / Intensity 3.7
Innovation / Creativity 4.0
Soloists 4.0
Sound / Production 3.7
Repeat Listenability 3.3
Tracks
1 Prime 4.3
2 What an Attractive Thing is Judgment 4.3
3 Propers for the Second Sunday in Lent 4.0
4 Propers for the First Mass of Christmas 4.0
5 Vespers 4.0
6 Four Marian Antiphons 4.3
7 Compline 4.3

Recorded 2000
Total time: 69:38, 7 songs


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Prime 4
2 What an Attractive Thing is Judgment 4
3 Propers for the Second Sunday in Lent 4
4 Propers for the First Mass of Christmas 4
5 Vespers 4
6 Four Marian Antiphons 4
7 Compline 4

Lovely blend, excellent intonation, and a warm, covered tone are the hallmarks of Washington D.C.'s oldest choral chamber ensemble, Musikanten. Here, under the accomplished hand of director Kerry Krebill, Musikanten addresses the tonally challenging classical sacred choral works of the composer Robert Evett (1922-1975).

Krebill chose compositions from Evett's later works (late '60s and early '70s), all requiring a highly disciplined ear to master. Most are a cappella, but organist Keith Reas does accompany several tracks. Evett's music is characterized by rich, close harmonies and sudden, unexpected changes in tonality. On these selections, Evett makes scant use of soloists or complex rhythms, focusing the thrust of his attentions on dense chords, changes in texture and the occasional haunting melody.

Imperfections are rare on this release. Yes, occasionally, the sopranos dominate a shade more than they should. Once in a long while, the dynamics within phrases are handled casually. But Musikanten's masterful musicianship will leave a far more lasting impression on the listener.

The recording quality is quite good, and easily matches or betters many of the live classical recordings on the market. The on-site recording in Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland is also a highly appropriate choice of locations for sacred music.

Perhaps due to my immersion in pop/rock related music, I had a longing for a less-"wet" (reverb-y), more punchy studio recording. This would certainly be considered inappropriate by some. However, even the judicious use of compression and EQ would have increased the listenability of this recording. Listeners will likely find themselves adjusting the volume during playback and straining somewhat to understand the lyrics.

In sum, Musikanten does a beautiful job with Evett's works, and any fan of contemporary sacred choral works should enjoy it.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 2
Tracks
1 Prime 4
2 What an Attractive Thing is Judgment 4
3 Propers for the Second Sunday in Lent 4
4 Propers for the First Mass of Christmas 4
5 Vespers 4
6 Four Marian Antiphons 4
7 Compline 4

Musikanten: Sacred Choral Music of Robert Evett is a smooth-flowing album with beautiful harmonies and impeccable blend. Some of these sacred works are a cappella; others are accompanied on the organ.

The arrangements are four-part harmony, but contain haunting chords and at times complex interactions between the male and female sections.

It is not easy to actively listen to this album. It was often difficult for me to understand the words, so while the wall of sound was lovely, it was unintelligible. I had to listen to it in multiple sessions because the sound was so pleasant and gentle that it lulled me to sleep.

This is a good album. I'm not denying that. I can't make any technical complaints. Musikanten is obviously well trained, well directed and well organized. However, this music did not make me jump and dance for more. If sacred choral music is your thing, this is a beautiful album that you would want in your collection. If you like music with a beat, skip Musikanten.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Prime 5
2 What an Attractive Thing is Judgment 5
3 Propers for the Second Sunday in Lent 4
4 Propers for the First Mass of Christmas 4
5 Vespers 4
6 Four Marian Antiphons 5
7 Compline 5

Musikanten, the oldest choral chamber ensemble in Washington, D.C., sings seven works of Robert Evett on their CD entitled Sacred Choral Music of Robert Evett. Each of the compositions is a portion of the Catholic mass.

The music is performed at an incredibly consistent level of quality. These accomplished musicians sing very difficult dissonant chords with a ease. They reserve vibrato for only those passages where it is required, thereby allowing the chords to create overtones.

There are two problems with the CD. First, the audio level of the entire CD is too low. I tried listening to this CD on a portable unit, my car system, and my home system. None could bring the volume up to the point that I usually require to review a CD.

The second problem is that over one third of the CD is at odds with the purposes of this web site. Compositions three through five (tracks eight through twenty) are Musikanten accompanied by an organ. However, having said that, the group and organ are very well balanced. Neither overwhelms the other and the results are commendable.

I have found that the more I listened to Musikanten's Sacred Choral Music of Robert Evett, the more I enjoyed it. It gives the listener a sense of peace and an opportunity to relax. If that's what you want and need, you will enjoy Musikanten's latest work.

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