Vespers, for January 2010:
a brilliant new work… fascinating… totally modern, without ever being simplistic
Smith was able to take advantage of the fact that, like most other period wind groups, the performers in Piffaro are proficient on a variety of instruments, as were their Renaissance counterparts.… Smith uses the choir in a similar manner, extracting soloists from amongst the singers and mixing and matching…
Smith’s style is essentially tonal and he uses both plainchant and Lutheran chorales in his settings… often striking and modally inflected… moments of edginess and chromaticism. Though based on medieval and renaissance sources and ideas, the result is totally modern, without ever being simplistic.
Though the various movements are written for different varieties of forces, using two different languages and mixing plainchant and Lutheran chorales, Smith creates a coherent and well-balanced ﬁnal structure.
I have nothing but praise for the performers. The Crossing sing the music as if they have been doing it all their life—there is nothing contrived or awkward about their presentation. And their twenty members make a beautifully blended sound, which matches the wind players well. Piffaro play Smith’s music as if it was the most natural thing in the world, which is a testament to their technique and to Smith’s ability to craft new music for old instruments.… fascinating blend of ancient and modern. Piffaro and Kile Smith have created a brilliant new work in the spirit of the Lutheran Vespers service which remains accessible without ever talking down.