LAWRENCE GREEN; "Kingsfold" (Tantara)***

THE CHOIRS OF BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY; "The Road Home" (Tantara)** 1/2

ARTHUR SHEPHERD; "Selected Works" (Tantara)***

QU'D UP; "Sq'd Horizons with Guest Vocalist Eisenhour" (Tantara)** 1/2

Brigham Young University's Tantara catalog covers a variety of ensemble types and sizes, as well as musical styles. The following four reviews represent a sampling of what Tantara has to offer:

"KINGSFOLD" has the strongest combination of excellent arrangements and excellent performances among the CDs reviewed here. Guitarist Lawrence Green has drawn on the arranging talents of his BYU colleagues (as well as his own) for a solo-guitar collection of sacred works.

Sensitive and interesting playing characterizes this album, as Green presents such pieces as "The Spirit of God," "Amazing Grace," and "How Great Thou Art." For those who enjoy LDS music, this is a great alternative to the preponderance of piano, vocal and string arrangements already available. For those who enjoy acoustic guitar music, it's an accessible, enjoyable, high-quality collection of songs.

This album is actually a re-issue; it was previously released on Sanctus Records. Congratulations to whoever decided it should be released again.

"THE ROAD HOME" is an album done in a similar vein to its predecessor, "A Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns," in both content and performer makeup. Drawing again from a combination of American folk songs, and LDS hymns and primary songs, BYU has assembled its choral forces for this CD.

Its strong point is that the songs and their performances are very beautiful. It's the sort of music that one might want to play, in order to set a reverent atmosphere on a Sunday morning.

Its weak point is that it never reaches the same climaxes as some of the previous albums. Is it the absence of orchestra, or the absence of Mac Wilberg arrangements? Even when given the chance, these performances too often shy away from letting go and reaching that high — even when

the pianist is giving the score all the "oomph" it deserves.

A healthy dose of joyful exuberance and emotional intensity, tastefully placed, would have added tremendously to this album.

But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. It's otherwise a good CD; choral quality is high, the song selection is good and it makes for nice listening.

ARTHUR SHEPHERD'S CD presents a variety of serious classical works by the composer — a piano quintet, a collection of art songs and solo piano works. Shepard is a composer of tremendous talent, and this music is fresh and sophisticated without being difficult to warm up to. The compositions date from about 1900 to 1950, and have rich chromaticism tied to a romantic base.

This album seems most likely to appeal to classical music connoisseurs — especially those who appreciate undiscovered gems. With excellent performances by Grant Johannesen, the Abramyan String Quartet and JoAnn Ottley, this CD fills a niche — not only for Utah/LDS serious-music literature, but for our national literature, as well.

Q'D Up is, as a band, a good solid group that can a get a nice feel and good swing going. The band is made up of BYU faculty members, and this CD is a nice collection of straight-ahead jazz.

There are no faults to pick out about what they do and how they do it, and those with an appetite for this kind of music will find that this disc fits the bill nicely. On the other hand, there are also no unusually exciting things to point out, either.

Q'D Up generally plays it pretty safe. Nobody really takes off on a virtuosic tangent (although some of Ray Smith's saxophone solos do stand out), nobody grabs the spotlight and runs with it and there aren't any unusually creative expressions to get excited about.

Vocalist Kelly Eisenhour adds a lot, however. The tracks she sings on are some of the best on the album. She brings that dash of personality that brings out the best in everybody. Behind her, the group makes a truly terrific backup band, and everybody comes out sounding great.


E-mail: rcline@desnews.com