Cantus: “A house of harvest” (Cantus sings CTS-L04).
The recordings of Thanksgiving-themed choral music collections aren’t exactly thick. This means that this one, from the all-male choir Cantus, fills a niche.
Cantus, which made its St. Louis debut with Cathedral Concerts last winter, is based in the Twin Cities; the music on this record is from the annual Thanksgiving broadcasts on Minnesota Public Radio. It’s a cheerfully eclectic mix, from inventive arrangements of traditional hymns to social justice lyrics, a drinking song by Felix Mendelssohn and “Turkey in the Straw”, “America the Beautiful” and “Simple Gifts”, a song in the form of a note to (in a great touch of whimsy) “Food, Glorious Food” by Lionel Bart.
The nine men of Cantus have an admirable mix and an equally admirable musicality. As in their concert in February, I found their sound a bit homogenized and their singing a bit without passion. Most of the music was enjoyable, but the two social justice works (Would You Harbor Me? By Ysaye M. Barnwell and “My Journey Yours” by Elise Witt) were, sadly, boring. Still, it’s an inventive collection for a neglected vacation, and a great soundtrack for family celebrations.
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