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SANTA FE DESERT CHO­RALE Hail Cecilia (Mesa Blue­moon) Hail Cecilia, recorded un­der the ba­ton of new Santa Fe Desert Cho­rale di­rec­tor Joshua Haber­mann, doc­u­ments the 2009 sum­mer sea­son of the cho­rale, a group of 24 pro­fes­sional singers who travel from around the United States to per­form to­gether in town. The mu­si­cal se­lec­tions are all over the map and in­clude set­tings of Shake­spearean son­nets, Old World Span­ish motets, and prayers to St. Francis. The group is known for its rich sound and con­sum­mate mu­si­cal­ity, and the record­ing of­fers ev­i­dence of a con­sis­tent and sump­tu­ous blend. The sonic bloom on the CD re­flects the acous­tics in the three his­toric churches in which the cho­rale per­formed: the Cathe­dral Basil­ica of St. Francis of As­sisi, Loretto Chapel, and the San­tu­ario de Guadalupe. Haber­mann was able to pro­duce gor­geous pi­anis­si­mos from the group, which has only six voices per sec­tion, but the for­tis­si­mos fre­quently lacked power. The choice of choral lit­er­a­ture could per­haps be bet­ter suited to the strengths of the mu­si­cians. The men, in “Chris­tus Resur­gens,” ar­ranged by Michael McG­lynn, of­fered a hand­some, broth­erly 12th-cen­tury Ir­ish chantscape with drum ac­com­pa­ni­ment. “Hymn to St. Cecilia,” a Ben­jamin Brit­ten piece set to a poem by W.H. Au­den, shows the cho­rale at its best, nim­bly han­dling com­pli­cated vo­cal lines and com­ing to­gether to of­fer tone and har­mony that is mu­sic sa­cred and mod­ern all at once. — Michael Wade Simp­son

NORDIC CON­NECT Spi­rals (ArtistShare) Here is Nordic Con­nect’s sec­ond disc for ArtistShare, a la­bel on which record­ings are funded by fans. Fore­most in this quin­tet, which fea­tures play­ers of Scan­di­na­vian de­scent, are trum­peter In­grid Jensen and her sis­ter, sax­o­phon­ist Chris­tine Jensen. In­grid has gained renown as a mem­ber for the past decade of the Maria Schneider Or­ches­tra. Chris­tine has sev­eral al­bums as leader, in­clud­ing a new jazz-or­ches­tra re­lease.

Spi­rals re­flects the band’s evo­lu­tion since 2007’s Flurry — in­clud­ing “in­sight into the band’s Nordic her­itage as they tour the lands of their an­ces­tors and see how their roots ef­fect the band’s en­ergy, mu­si­cal choices and who they are,” ac­cord­ing to ArtistShare. On the opener, “Travel Fever,” In­grid Jensen’s trum­pet en­ters a tick-tock groove es­tab­lished by pi­anist Maggi Olin and bassist Mattia Welin. The song of­fers hearty uni­son and solo work by the sis­ters and an elec­tric-pi­ano solo rem­i­nis­cent, in its bright col­ors, of Chick Corea. “Song for Inga” and “Bal­lad North” be­gin placidly and dirge­like, re­spec­tively, but sim­i­larly blos­som into more ex­hil­a­rat­ing lev­els. On the loose, live­feel­ing “Earth Sighs,” with the sax­o­phon­ist on so­prano, the band works it­self up to a Nordic ca­coph­ony. “Cas­tle Moun­tain” is a high­light, not least be­cause of the strong work by Welin and drum­mer Jon Wikan. The closer, “Brejk a Leg,” with Olin on elec­tric pi­ano and syn­the­sizer, is dy­namic and heady. A fine set.

— Paul Wei­de­man

LOWER DENS Twin-Hand Move­ment (Gnomonsong) Maybe you saw Jana Hunter when she per­formed at Back­road Pizza a few years back. It was a good venue for her, as she was an acous­tic folkie at the time. Some might even have called her “freak-folk,” lump­ing her into that short-lived sub­genre. I’d choose the term “bed­room folk,” as her records of­ten had a home­spun, DIY feel. Re­gard­less, she’s out of the bed­room and no longer do­ing any­thing that’s folk. Lower Dens is her rock band, and the group’s first al­bum is a dizzy­ing set of Sonic Youth-ful, Mazzy Star-lit shoegaze. It ebbs and flows be­tween rag­ing gui­tars to slower, drunken washes of sound. And while the songs range from two to four min­utes long, the band is in no rush, of­ten set­ting the mood with boom­ing drums and res­o­nant gui­tar tones, be­fore Hunter’s vo­cals en­ter. Her sing­ing is un­de­ni­ably sul­try, al­though I wish I could un­der­stand her bet­ter. On one high­light track, “I Get Ner­vous,” the melody is formed from the haze of a dream, slowly build­ing and then evolv­ing into a ca­su­ally cool ru­mi­na­tion on — well, I’m not sure what. Nonethe­less, the mum­bled lyrics are part of the point, help­ing to cre­ate a rich, dis­ori­ent­ing at­mos­phere. It’s a com­pelling be­gin­ning to a sec­ond ca­reer for Hunter, and I hope she keeps that acous­tic gui­tar in its case for a while. — Robert B. Ker

‘Twin-Hand Move­ment,’ the first al­bum from Lower Dens, is a dizzy­ing set of Sonic Youth-ful, Mazzy Star-lit shoegaze.

LES JA­COBINS Aux Armes, Citoyens! (ATMA Clas­sique) As we rush to the bar­ri­cades for our Bastille Day cel­e­bra­tions (no Roy­al­ists in­vited), we ought to have a sound­track. One could hardly do bet­ter than a re­cent re­lease from the Cana­dian wind en­sem­ble Les Ja­cobins, an im­pres­sive pe­riod-in­stru­ment sex­tet of clar­inets, horns, and bas­soons that spe­cial­izes in over­looked mu­sic of the French Rev­o­lu­tion­ary era. Most of the items on this CD are by François-Joseph Gossec (1734-1829), a long-lived and in­flu­en­tial fig­ure who man­aged to thrive be­fore, dur­ing, and af­ter the fight­ing; his bi­og­ra­pher Claude Role noted that he flour­ished “un­der four kings, six years of revo­lu­tion, the Con­sulate, the Di­rec­torate, and the Em­pire, not to men­tion two Restora­tions.” Here Gossec is joined by such con­tem­po­raries as Éti­enne-Nicolas Méhul and Charles-Simon Ca­tel. None of these pieces ri­val the works be­ing pro­duced at the time in Vi­enna (say, by Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven). Still, much of this mu­sic re­flects the earnest, vig­or­ous spirit of the French Revo­lu­tion, nowhere more than in La Bataille (1794), in which Gossec de­picts a mil­i­tary en­counter, from the sum­mon­ing of the troops to the even­tual vic­tory. The en­sem­ble’s di­rec­tor, bas­soon­ist Mathieu Lussier, rounds out this col­lec­tion with a set of his own ar­range­ments of pop­u­lar songs and cer­e­mo­nial pieces from what Dick­ens called the best of times and the worst of times, in­clud­ing set­tings of such fa­mil­iar items as “Ça ira” and “La Mar­seil­laise.” —James M. Keller

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