Halley directs his "home team" in spirited performances of the popular suite Love Songs for Springtime, and the magnificent setting of the Appalachian hymn Wondrous Love. Also featured are several of Halley's sacred compositions, from the intricate and rhythmic Christe Qui Lux Es to the lush and lyrical hymn-anthem Jesu, The Very Thought of Thee, and the majestic "What Stood Will Stand".
from The American Organist Magazine
(Excerpt) "Paul Halley as a choral composer comes to the fore on the third disc, Wondrous Love (1996). Featuring five settings of anonymous English love songs scored for choir and brass quintet followed by six mostly a cappella settings of sacred texts, this recording manages to showcase the blended choirs in a range of moods without the jarring segues of the first disc. Of the six recordings here under review, this and the preceding title are perhaps the most consistently on-target in meeting the stated goal of "superlative performance of classical choral masterworks." Particularly successful on Wondrous Love are the humorous "Soldier, Won't You Marry Me?" and Halley's unforgettable setting of the text, What Stood Will Stand," by America's favorite pastoral poet and philosopher, Wendell Berry. The ease with which the composer moves between styles as disparate as Gregorian chant and shape-note hymnody - all the while tying it together with his own unique sound - is most impressive. Organists interested in tracking the development of one of their own rising stars will certainly want to give this disc a listen." - Jennifer Kolmes
from The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians
"The children and adults sing not only with coherence but with admirable freshness of sound."
- Victor Hill
from Bob Zeidler, Music Critic
Amazon.com Reviews and New York Times On The Web Classical Music Forum
"Most of the choral music in this excellent anthology is new to me. The musicians, however are not. Paul Halley, for many years both the Director of Music at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and a member, composer and arranger of the Paul Winter Consort, is very much a known - and talented - musician. And his Gaudeamus adult choir have performed with great skill on "Sacred Feast" and with humor and moving vocalism on "Pete" (the quintessential Pete Seeger album), both reviewed elsewhere at Amazon.com by me. One of the songs in this album is, on the other hand, something I've come to treasure for sentimental reasons; I'll leave that one for the end of this commentary.
The opening suite of five songs ("Love Songs for Springtime") is alternately sweet and droll. Particularly humorous is "The Lover's Arithmetic"; you won't have any difficulty following the mathematics set out therein, given the crystal-clear enunciation of these singers.
The more liturgical pieces in the center of the album are all fine, and beautifully done. Of these, one stands out in particular relief: "Jesu, The Very Thought of Thee." It is simply drop-dead gorgeous, with Halley's pipe organ providing a stunning backdrop and underpinnings to the chorus.
The album ends with two selections in a more "heroic" mode: "What Stood Will Stand," set to words by Wendell Berry, the famous poet and social critic, and the title song, "Wondrous Love" (from The Southern Harmony hymn book).
This title song, with its dramatically open harmonies, had been a favorite of the late, great Robert Shaw. (In fact, at the memorial tribute given to Shaw in Atlanta shortly after his passing, this song had been prominently featured in the tribute.) Halley's arrangement, utterly dramatic in contradistinction to Shaw's a capella setting, is a tour de force and - if one is needed - the one single reason for acquiring this album. Stunningly set for chorus, brass quintet, timpani and percussion, and organ, Halley's arrangement brings forth the heroic dimension of this work. The Battell Brass are uniformly excellent in the work, Gordon Gottlieb (long a Paul Winter Consort "regular") is his usual astounding self in the vital percussion parts, and Halley of course underpins the whole work, once again, with his organ work.
I don't think there's a track on this album you won't like. But get it for its title work; it's more than worth it for that alone."
- Bob Zeidler
Chorus Angelicus and Gaudeamus
Directed by Paul Halley
Paul Halley, pipe organ
Elizabeth Allyn, recording accompanist
The Battell Brass
Jay Lichtmann & Claire Newbold, trumpets
Bob Hoyle, french horn
Scott Cranston, trombone
Stephen Perry, tuba
Gordon Gottlieb, tympani & percussion
Produced by Tom Bates & Paul Halley
Margaret Race, Executive Producer
Tom Bates, Recording Engineer
Tommy Skarupa, Assistant Engineer
Choirs and brass recorded at Salisbury School Chapel, Salisbury, CT
Pipe organ recorded at St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hartford, CT
Kerry Gavin Studio, Art Design and Production
Margaret Race, Creative Supervision
Special thanks to
Elizabeth Allyn, Jim Barrett, Nell Bates, and Floyd Higgins
C. Archer Woodward
© 1996 Paul Halley/Joyful Noise Inc.
Paul Halley, Joyful Noise Inc. Artistic Director
Margaret Race, Joyful Noise Inc., Executive Director
All Rights Reserved
Made in USA