August 2007

The Turtle Creek Chorale - Serenade
Reference Recordings RR 110
Format: CD
Released: 2007

by Bill Brooks

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

Substantial. This word always haunts me when listening to the power of the Turtle Creek Chorale of Dallas, Texas. At over 200 strong, this is one of the largest all-male choruses in the world. It is also considered one of the finest, so it is noteworthy to mention that this chorus is composed completely of "dues-paying" volunteers.

For the Chorale’s latest release, Timothy Seelig, conductor and artistic director, has selected a variety of music written by composers that range from the early Baroque period to the 21st century. The spirit of the disc is uplifting, and the singing is rich and consistent. Religious themes are common territory for the Chorale, and they make up a large part of this release. Morten Lauridsen’s "O Magnum Mysterium" is about as pop as choral music gets. Perhaps it is the sheer size of the Chorale, or maybe it is the resonance of the excellent Myerson Symphony Center, but this performance captures the infinite nature that Laurindsen was trying to express in this piece like few performances I have heard. One of the more interesting selections is "Nella Fantasia," with music by Ennio Morricone. This beautiful piece, from the soundtrack for the film The Mission, had been begging for words. Singer Sarah Brightman begged to add them, and Morricone finally granted his permission. Thank you, Sarah.

Reference Recordings has a way of accurately capturing the gorgeous tone of this chorale, allowing the listener to hear the nuance of individual voices, a seemingly impossible task with such a large chorale. The soundstage will run down your walls. You may want to move some of those pictures.