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Lorenzo Subrizi

REMEMBER: A Choral Experience (2022)


November 3, 2023

Tuning / Blend 4.7
Energy / Intensity 4.0
Innovation / Creativity 4.0
Soloists 4.0
Sound / Production 4.3
Repeat Listenability 3.7
1 Kyrie on a Landscape 4.3
2 Agnus Dei 4.3
3 The Rose 4.0
4 Remember 4.3
5 When the dawn will come 4.7
6 Invitation to love 4.3

Recorded 2021 – 2022
Total time: 26:21, 6 songs

Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
1 Kyrie on a Landscape 5
2 Agnus Dei 5
3 The Rose 5
4 Remember 5
5 When the dawn will come 5
6 Invitation to love 5

REMEMBER: A Choral Experience is indeed an exercise in memory, specifically the distinctions between synthesis and pastiche. This whole album reminds me of some long-ago advice from Deke Sharon on how to write a pop song: think of a piece you adore, write something just like it, then change a few things until you feel like you have a new song. Classical music is supposedly more cerebral in its homages, but this recording shows genre may be all in your head.

Take the title track and its opening tenor solo: "Remember when I'm gone away, remember when I'm gone away." Speed it up, make a few tiny changes and you've got "I ain't missing you at all, since you've been gone away", straight out of John Waite's 1984 pop smash. Since composer Lorenzo Subrizi was born in 1991, he might have been imprinted in childhood by Tina Turner's 1996 cover, or maybe he even did it on purpose. Hard to say. Hard also not to hear echoes of the Beatles or whoever else sprinked liberally throughout these new works.

The Kyrie and Agnus Dei are fine. They're nice, actually. They sound like every other a cappella Kyrie written in the last thirty years, and I don't mean that in a bad way. It's just that there's a style: big chords with lots of notes, really bright sopranos, some common clusters. These versions here are pretty and nicely sung. You'll enjoy them if you run across them, and if you don't you'll probably hear the same ideas elsewhere.

The singing here is lovely and takes a definite artistic stand: straight tones, pop-style soprano intonation, and a certain crystalline gloss that I associate with Europeans singing in English. Lots of reverb, even on the churchiest parts, to make it sound modern. It sounds good! It sounds familiar. If you like this sort of thing, this EP includes six songs that are very nicely done.

Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 5
1 Kyrie on a Landscape 5
2 Agnus Dei 5
3 The Rose 4
4 Remember 5
5 When the dawn will come 5
6 Invitation to love 5

Mesmerizing, enchanting, and magnetic: these are just a few of the words to describe the sublime release that is Lorenzo Subrizi's REMEMBER: A Choral Experience. From the smaller arcs to the facets that unify the album as a whole, Subrizi makes it clear that the devil is in the details and that attention to detail is tantamout to a piece's success.

Immediately, the listener is gripped by the minimalistic Kyrie on a Landscape, in which everything from tone quality to reverberated cathedral-like vocal fade-outs feel very delicately intentional. Silences and their specificity are nearly as evocative as sound, and the harmonic language in terms of major-seventh dissonance adds a very profound, impactful layer. By the time Agnus Dei arrives, it is clear that the listener is on a full journey with the unexpected harmonic and melodic content. Half-diminished chords at a moment of tension amplify emotion, and delightfully return in the later tracks as part of the unification of the entire piece. Even the specificity of tone in the singers' interpretation of consonants feels like a conscious decision, aiding in the homogeny of each line or phrase. The back-and-forth nature of melodic passages in When the dawn will come, for this listener, made it abundantly clear how hooked I was, mentally flowing with each moving stepwise passage.

This exquisite work of Lorenzo Subrizi's could not come more highly recommended: do yourself a favor, take a half-hour with this album and enjoy the ride.

Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 2
1 Kyrie on a Landscape 3
2 Agnus Dei 3
3 The Rose 3
4 Remember 3
5 When the dawn will come 4
6 Invitation to love 3

Lorenzo Subrizi offers six choral compositions on REMEMBER: A Choral Experience. The chamber pieces are performed by himself (bass), Sara Ghiglia (Soprano), Giulia Cavallera (Alto), Guido Giordana (Tenor), and Davide Conti (Tenor 2, Kyrie on a Landscape and The Rose). Though the pieces are accessible and the blend sounds good, the disjunct vocal style and compositions leave me questioning the musical choices of both the performances and the pieces.

I experience some cognitive dissonance while listening to this album. I hear voices that sound appropriate for contemporary pop a cappella — no vibrato, thin tone, pedestrian diction — singing contemporary choral compositions that I associate hearing sung by people using a more Western classical-oriented technique. The sound overall isn't bad per se, but it's not what I expect, so I find myself trying to separate the performance and the composition even more than I normally would in order to critique the album.

This sound has advantages: the blend between the four or five performers (depending on the track) is mostly exquisite and the tuning is usually very good, except the bass part can be a bit muddy on the low notes. Unfortunately, the disadvantages are more noticeable. The dynamics are less powerful on the soft and loud ends without the heft that Western choral technique provides. And in the louder moments, such as on Agnus Dei, the sound of the voices seems overwhelmed by the mixing/mastering, so the sound becomes almost more electronic than vocal. On the four tracks in English, I understand only about half of the words due to unclear ending consonants and vowel sounds. The diction of the Latin on the first two tracks seems odd as well, neither Italianate or Germanic, though it is uniform across the voice parts.

The compositions themselves, all written by Subrizi, are fine, though they mostly sound very similar to each other. Stylistically, think Eric Whitacre but even more tonal and inflected with a hint of jazz harmony. I can imagine a lot of amateur church choirs hearing these tracks, especially the two Latin pieces, and wanting to perform them. Because I don't quite understand the words of the English texts from this album, I'm not sure who the intended perfomers of these pieces would be. I would have appreciated more variety between the compositions besides the texts, perhaps one that is more upbeat or even mid-tempo where the ensemble doesn't pause between every phrase or section.

Even with these critiques about sound, diction, and album construction, I'm thrilled that Subrizi and his ensemble are pushing the boundaries of what a cappella is as well as creating more choral music. Who knows, maybe this style of performance will become a new standard? And if you, like me, exist at the intersection of the a cappella and choral worlds, check out REMEMBER: A Choral Experience to hear for yourself!


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Ordering Information

REMEMBER: A Choral Experience streams on these platforms

  • Apple Music