American Record Guide

Cor Cantiamo is a touring chamber choir in residence at Northern Illinois University, and a versatile lot they are. I liked them in a program of works by Jaako Mantyjarvi, and they come across nicely here as well. Palestrina sounds terrific under their care, as do contemporary works by the likes of Eriks Esenvalds, Ily Matthew Maniano, and Galina Grigorjeva. Best of all are the three spirituals, which tingle with ethnic flair. (‘We Shall Walk Through the Valley’ might even bring a tear or two.) Not every work here is a masterpiece, but the choir does its commendable best to make them sound that way.

Stephen Foster’s ‘Hard Times’ appears in a very interesting arrangement by Craig Hella Johnson. (I’d be curious to hear your reaction, I rather like it.) Maestro Johnson is the Director of Choral Activities at Northern Illinois, and if I were a choral musician in need of training I wouldn’t hesitate to seek him out. He obviously knows what he’s doing.

—Philip Greenfield