Following up on the Canadian Music Centre’s release of Colin Eatock: Chamber Music in 2012 (CMCCD 17812) this second volume features Eatock’s orchestral and choral works in performances by Sinfonia Toronto conducted by Nurhan Arman and the Soundstreams’ Choir 21 under the direction of David Fallis.
A baker’s dozen of Eatock’s choral works are on offer here. A number of them are based on sacred texts: The Lord Is Risen!, Three Psalms and Benedictus es: Alleluia are straightforward, major key settings in a largely syllabic and homophonic style, conventionally adorned with fleeting imitative passages, serene modulations and an abundance of sighing suspensions. Cast in a similar vein, the secular selections exhibit a somewhat darker tone and feature settings of texts by well-known authors Walt Whitman, Amy Lowell, Christina Rossetti and the exceedingly obscure 16th-century poet Francis Kindlemarsh.
The extended opening track, a setting of Whitman’s Ashes of Soldiers, is an expansion of a work that also appeared in Eatock’s previous chamber music disc, heard here in a setting for string orchestra and harp with an extended instrumental introduction featuring a beautifully played introspective clarinet solo by Kornel Wolak followed by soprano Lynn Anoush Isnar’s sensitive interpretation of the text. Only the final selection of the disc is purely instrumental, a delightfully quirky Sinfonietta for chamber orchestra in three concise movements that are by turns bumptious, plangent and just plain silly, all tied together by a chromatic four-note garland seemingly based on transpositions of the B-A-C-H motive of yore (and perhaps the analogous D-S-C-H motive as well in light of the galloping Shostakovich-style rhythms of the finale!).
All performances were expertly recorded at Toronto’s sonically legendary Humbercrest United Church by Robert DiVito. The clarity of diction is superb throughout.