The Boston-based Lorelei Ensemble is an all-female, chamber vocal group of eight, dedicated to the creation and performance of repertoire for women’s voices. They’ve previously released two recordings, both of which were warmly received, and have become a regularly touring ensemble as their profile has grown.

This latest recording takes on the theme of impermanence, particularly as it relates to patterns of migration throughout history. The intriguing program sees works by contemporary composers Toru Takemitsu and Peter Gilbert nestled between works by Dufay and selections from 12th-century songbooks and assorted manuscripts. Eclectic yes, but it makes for a satisfying musical experience, the ensemble under artistic director Beth Willer superb.

Gilbert’s bite-sized settings of eight Japanese poems, Tsukimi, are a wonderful showcase for each of the eight vocalists. A celebration of the full moon, the blend Willer draws from the ensemble possesses a similar lunar beauty, but of a robust rather than pale kind. The group favours a rich, often ultra-expressive sound that doesn’t shy away from vibrato, but always refrains from overegging the cake.

Listen to the Dufay motets for a demonstration of discipline and virtuosity, as well as sheer joy in performance. Equally impressive are excerpts from the Turin Codex. Pour ce que point is a particular highlight, the singers relishing the text and displaying astonishing intonation.


Composer: Takemitsu, Gilbert, Dufay
Composition: Choral works
Performer: Lorelei Ensemble/Beth Willer
Catalogue Number: Sono Luminus DSL92226