The late, great American choral conductor Robert Shaw (1916-1999) made forty-one recordings for Telarc during his tenure as Music Director (and later Music Director Emeritus) of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Leading the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus (which he founded in 1967, the year he became Music Director of the ASO) and the expanded Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus (created in 1970), he recorded a variety of large sacred and secular masterworks for chorus and orchestra, including his final Telarc recording—the Dvorak Stabat Mater—completed in 1998 just months before his death.
Shaw's work with these ensembles, and with the more recently formed Robert Shaw Festival Singers, was widely recognized for its excellence during his lifetime, both within the recording industry (eleven of his Telarc recordings won Grammy Awards) and by his peers and colleagues. Now his recordings stand as a great testament to his tireless efforts in honing his singers and players to his own impeccable artistic standards. "...Shaw forged an original and profoundly influential career devoted to the highest standards of choral-music performance," said Stereophile magazine. "He was, in short, America's first and greatest choral conductor."
Because he was so renowned for his work with choruses, his work as a respected symphonic conductor was often overlooked. But it was during his time as Music Director and Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony (1967-1988) that the orchestra moved from a part-time regional ensemble to a full-time orchestra that was recognized around the world for its quality. For this release, Telarc has created a rewarding anthology of individual movements culled from the treasure trove of Shaw's performances of large-scale works for chorus and orchestra.
The recording opens in an operatic vein, with a powerful rendition of the triumphal "Gloria all'Egitto," from Verdi's Aida. It is followed by a more solemn work, the poignant "Agnus Dei" from the Faure Requiem. Verdi's sacred work for chorus and orchestra, the "Te Deum," from Four Sacred Pieces, is also performed on this recording.
Shaw made two recordings of works by J.S. Bach for Telarc: of the Mass in B Minor and the Magnificat. Both are represented here; the Mass by the "Osanna in excelcis;" and the Magnificat by its opening movement, "Magnificat anima mea" (My soul magnifies the Lord).
The Shaw/Telarc recording of Carl Orff's popular work, Carmina burana, is a legendary one. Featured here is the "In taberna quando sumus." Following it is the middle movement from Leonard Bernstein's remarkable work, Chichester Psalms, written for countertenor or male alto and chorus, and incorporating portions of Psalm 23 and Psalm 2.
Other selections featured include "Cum Sancto Spiritu" from Vivaldi's Gloria; "Laudamus te" from the Poulenc Gloria; "Sing to God" from Haydn's The Creation; "Kyrie" from Mass No. 2 in G Major by Schubert; and "Tui Nati vulnerati" from the Dvorak Stabat Mater. Closing the recording is the moving "Selig sind die Toten" (Blessed are the Dead) from Shaw's recording of Brahms' A German Requiem.