Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Catherine Ravenne, Pierre Jeannot, Accentus Chamber Choir|
A Fabulous Choir in Less Than Clear Sound
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 09/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Accentus is a French a cappella choir of 32 voices founded and directed by Laurence Equilbey in 1991; on the basis of this recording I'd warrant that she is a superb choir builder and director. I'd heard wonderful things about them but had never heard anything they'd recorded. Here we have a collection of transcriptions of pieces originally written for instruments (or instruments and solo voice) sung impeccably. The only problem is that at high dynamic levels there tends to be some distortion; I played the disc on four different playback setups and got the distortion each time. A real pity.As to the performances themselves, they are nothing short of sensational. The program starts with Barber's own transcription of his 'Adagio for Strings' (itself a transcription of a movement from his string quartet) to the words of the Agnus dei. Then we have an impressive and moving choral setting by Gerard Pesson of the Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth Symphony; it is set to words of August von Platen. There are two Chopin transcriptions by Franck Krawczyk: 'Lacrimosa,' from the Op. 10, No. 6 Etude, and 'Lulajze, Jezuniu' ('Sleep, little Jesus') set to the Largo from Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 58. They are both quite beautiful.The main transcriber on this disc is Clytus Gottwald who not only set the Adagietto but six other pieces including Ravel's 'Soupir,' Wolf's 'Die verlassene Maegdlein' and 'Auf ein altes Bild,' Berg's 'Die Nachtigall,' Debussy's 'Les Angelus.' He tends to use the overlapping choral technique pioneered by Gyorgy Ligeti which creates a kind of aural haze. This is very effective in the impressionistic pieces (and in the second of the Wolf songs), much less so in the German transcriptions. Least successful, by far, is the transcription by Gottwald of 'Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen' from Mahler's Rueckert-Lieder, which, no matter how beautifully sung, becomes a muddy mess obscuring both the melody line and the words. Finally, there is a gorgeous piece based on Bach's 'Komm, suesser Tod' ('Come, sweet death') transcribed by the Norwegian master, Knut Nystedt. It, the Barber and the Mahler Adagietto are, for me, the high points of this fascinating disc. A word about this terrific choir. They sing with a distinctively French sound--that is to say, with clarity, lightness, absolute purity of sound--and their dynamic range has to be heard to be believed. The tonal core does not waver or spread even at the softest dynamic or the extremes of vocal range and, in spite of the distortion in the recording, one can hear that they never produce an ugly tone even at their loudest. I am eager to hear more of their recordings and, who knows, maybe even hear them perform in person some day.Scott Morrison"
Brian Arcarese | Philadelphia, PA | 01/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first heard a selection (Mahler's Adagietto) from this CD on the radio, and I had to buy it. This music is some of the most beautiful I have ever heard (and I have many years' experience as a pianist, organist, and opera and choral singer). I first loved the aforementioned Adagietto, but have later come to relish even more the second Malher piece on the CD; I use it during meditation, and it takes me to a deep, peaceful, spiritual place. Also, the Ravel piece Soupir ("sigh") is just beyond words--the colorings of the vocal expression, the seamless blend of this ensemble. It's like butter!! I do not know if this ensemble has other recordings, but I would snatch them up as soon as I found out about them. However, to be balanced, the inner selections on the CD, tracks 6,7, and 8, while intricate and well performed, do not rise to the heights of the others I mentioned. But then, how often does one like every cut on an album?"