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DOUGLAS KNEHANS - Lux Dei - New Works for Choir - CCM Chorale - Christina Haan (Organ) - Brett Scott (Conductor) - 638339447212 - Released: August 2015 - Ablaze Records AR-00021

Panis Angelicus
Three Psalms
Epicideum Hathumode
Two Looks at Silence
Missa Brevis
Symbolum Apostolorum

I've always admired composers who can write music that sounds modern but feels ancient. The contemporary style and technique make it seem new, different and fresh, while the general character of the writing allows for an overall outlook that takes you back through the centuries to the days of early music. A prime example of that on this recording is the Agnus Dei from his Missa Brevis (2010). The descending four note motif on which the whole piece is based is written in such a way that can't help but sound like a modern harmonic sequence or progression, but scored the way it is with unison voices hovering over a long organ pedal note it sounds more like an ancient monastic chant with unusual intervals that evoke imagery from the mists of time, both religious and secular. And because Douglas Knehans (b. 1957) avoids the trap of using modern day smoke and mirrors electronic or digital manipulation when composing, most of his choral music comes across as well rooted and accessible, and always seems to hit an emotional nerve.

The Australian/American label Ablaze Records, whose main focus is on recording new, uncharted and previously unavailable music, have certainly released something here that should be of great appeal to anyone interested in new choral music.

Jean-Yves Duperron - November 2016