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I'm largely a rock, folk and blues fan who only started getting into classical/orchestral/choral music when well past the age of 40. I first heard Morten Lauridsen (who's name I keep confusing with Viggo Morteson's!) through hearing his arrangement of O Magnum Mysterium, the definitive recording of which appears on this album, on the radio.
I bought Lux Aeterna without having heard it, mainly to obtain a recording of O Magnum Mysterium. I'm deeply moved by Lux Aeterna, words like 'sublime' come to mind, I try not to listen to it too often in case I start taking it for granted and spoil it for myself. My wife Julia can hardly stop listening to it, thinks its sounds like heavenly angels and has bought a copy for her mum.
I've heard people criticise Lauridsen for using the same chords a lot and not varying the sound too much. Might as well criticise John Williams for not being a pianist-if you find a signature sound that works, why not stick with it?
I have a feeling that this music was written and performed in an attempt to give a feeling of what it might be like to leave this world of trickery, dissapointments, toils and snares and be received, unworthy but rescued, cleansed and accepted, into the glorious presence of the Lord. As a Christian, that indeed is my hope.
Lux Aeterna has a very sympathetic and comforting feel about it, the music seems to be saying 'Don't worry, I know how much you're hurting, stay strong-it will be all right in the end.' I love the way the strings, woodwind and voices complement each other to produce something quite uniquely moving. I don't have the words or understanding to express it any better.
Not so keen on the madrigals, they're well performed but don't do so much for me, but never mind. If you like O Magnum Mysterium, you'll love Lux Aeterna.