This generously programmed CD was derived from two different early-'60s albums by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir that happen to fit together by virtue of the common period shared by the repertory. Their approach to the music is somewhat different from that of the Roger Wagner Chorale, who generally take a more robust, full-bodied, and direct approach to this repertory. Under Richard Condie's direction, by contrast, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir generally go for subtle, highly restrained dynamics, even on full-blooded numbers like "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp," "The Battle Cry of Freedom," "He's Gone Away" (which is doubly fascinating to hear in a more authentic form than the version popularized by the Serendipity Singers around same period), and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" -- there are aspects of the latter song that listeners might never have noticed before, and the arrangement is clever in its own quiet way. It's really only on the songs that are impossible to sing any other way, such as "The Bonnie Blue Flag," that they cut loose, and even there, it's the women's voices that have the dominant role. A pair of organists, Alexander Schreiner and either Frank Asper or Robert Cundick, provide the accompaniment. Eight Stephen Foster songs fill out the CD after the baker's dozen of Civil War songs, and they are memorable, if a little less compelling. The annotation is not only generous and highly detailed, but as informative about the choir as it is about the songs. ~ Bruce Eder
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