Album Remarks & Appraisals:
This is a collection of early American carols, country dances, Southern harmony hymns and Shaker spiritual songs, beautifully performed by the Rose Ensemble.
Liner Note Author: Jordan Sramek.
Recording information: St. Bridget's Church, Solon, Iowa (08/2008).
Editors: Jordan Sramek; Peter Nothnagle.
The estimable Minnesota-based Rose Ensemble, whose motto is "Awakening the Ancient," has thrown itself into repertoires as diverse as Eastern European Renaissance, Mexican Baroque, the Cantigas de Santa Maria, and traditional Hawaiian song. Here the group sings and plays "Early American Carols, Country Dances, Southern Harmony Hymns, and Shaker Spiritual Songs." The singers and players are clearly working at an exceptional level of artistic sophistication, but their skill is in the service of presenting the music with all the artless simplicity in which it was conceived and originally performed. The small vocal ensemble and soloists sing with absolute purity and unmannered charm. There is an assortment of vocal pieces -- solos, small ensembles, and choruses -- some a cappella and some chastely accompanied by folk instruments. These works intriguingly demonstrate the distinctiveness of 18th and 19th century American musical culture, particularly the tug between European traditions and emerging American conventions. The melodies are often derived from, or reminiscent of, folk musics of the British Isles, but the harmonies and particularly the counterpoint frequently expose either a rejection of the conventions of European art music, or an innocence of its rules. It's a delight to have such a beautifully performed and produced recording of this repertoire. It should be of interest to both fans of American folk music and anyone curious about the state of American musical culture in the early days of the Republic.~Stephen Eddins
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