Polyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Peter Cornelius was born to actor parents and destined from early life to have a career centred on words and music. He had early contact with the stage and dramatic literature, and like others of the time (such as Schumann), Cornelius immersed himself in German literature at an early age. At the same time he developed an interest in music. After early influences from Beethoven and Schubert, and studies of form and the composition of sacred music in Berlin, Cornelius's musical style matured under the tutelage of Liszt in Weimar. On their first meeting Liszt encouraged Cornelius to compose sacred music, however Cornelius then turned to the composition of opera and song whilst developing his natural gift in poetry. Choral works, however, remained an important part of Cornelius's compositions—many with sacred texts. Mention the name Cornelius to most music lovers and their immediate reaction will be 'Isn't he the man who wrote the song heard at Christmas—Three Kings?' Indeed he is and this piece can be heard on track 6 (Drei Könige). However, this disc also explores the other wonderful choral music written by Cornelius. All of these pieces deserve to be heard more!