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Described in WholeNote Magazine (Toronto) as “twenty-five of the most intense minutes of listening you are likely to experience” and was nominated for a 2009 JUNO Award in the category “best classical composition of the year.” In her correspondence with the composer, Margaret Atwood herself commented: “this recognition is certainly well deserved.”
Large-scale choral work, commissioned by the DaCapo Chamber Choir featuring cellist Ben Bolt-Martin, soprano Sheila Dietrich, narrator Bruce Dow, directed by Leonard Enns. Text from the poem by Margaret Atwood.
Occasionally we find a CD that truly stands out from the rest, and here is one, certainly. Timothy Corlis is a composer of great depth and passion, not to mention a pristine, polished craft. The opening Prelude for the Night of the Lunar Eclipse, a post-impressionistic duet for cello and piano, draws you in compellingly.
The title track follows, for chorus and narrator with soloists; a shattering experience of Margaret Atwood’s nearly brutal poetry, linked with Corlis’ masterful writing. It is twenty-five of the most intense minutes of listening you are likely to experience. The DaCapo Chamber Choir is in top form. Gaps between the tracks are short on this disc, adding to the ambiguous suggestion that these works might be considered part of a diverse suite. Following the choral poem with the angst-filled chamber piece Western Projections seems the right step. Violinist Jerzy Kaplanek exhibits his glassy tone, notably.
Engineers Earl McCluskie and Ed Marshall have brilliantly captured the sound of St. George’s Church, Guelph, and Maureen Forrester Hall in Waterloo. Warm acoustics bestow a rich benediction on the project.
- John S. Gray reviewing the album NotesTowards, WholeNote Magazine, Feb. 12, 2009
“Good art in one form often inspires good art in other forms.”
This is certainly the case with Notes Towards, an artistically engaging and emotionally moving album produced by local composers, musicians and vocalists combining chamber music with choral and spoken word. The centrepiece is Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written, a poem by Margaret Atwood set to music by Timothy Corlis. The large-scale choral piece was commissioned by Leonard Enns and the DaCapo Chamber Choir. The album also features Corlis‘ Prelude for the Night of the Lunar Eclipse and Western Projections, in addition to As Through a Glass Darkly, a song cycle by Heather Dawn Taves, and Cello Sonata No. 1 by Enns.
The soloists include cellist Ben Bolt-Martin, Jerzy Kaplanek on violin and Michael E. Wood on percussion and Taves on piano, with soprano Sheila Dietrich, tenor Brandon Leis and Stratford Shakespeare Festival actor Bruce Dow as a narrator.
The stated aim of the recording project is “to speak out against the injustices of our modern world in a way that is uniquely possible through music and poetry.” It’s a lofty but necessary goal in these troubling times. All I can say is mission accomplished.”
- Robert Reid reviewing the album NotesTowards, The Record, July 17, 2009
There’s lots of creativity in Corlis‘ writing and, in particular, the passages following the narrative sections were atmospherically striking. DaCapo’s handling of the long sustained notes, repeated passages and intensely soft passages created a trance-inducing and hypnotic bed in which the soloists meditation could freely flow above, strengthening the soundscape.
- Daniel Ariaratnam reviewing the premier of Corlis’ Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written, The Record, March 6, 2006