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Colors of Love
Steven Stucky, John Tavener, Bernard Rands
Colors of Love
Genres: Folk, Classical
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #1

This compilation of modern-day madrigals, the latest in a fascinating series of discs from the San Francisco-based all-male vocal group Chanticleer, won the Grammy for Best Small Ensemble Performance of 1999. The selection...  more »


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All Artists: Steven Stucky, John Tavener, Bernard Rands, Long Zhou, Chen Yi, Augusta Read Thomas, Steven Sametz, Marianne Kach, Chanticleer
Title: Colors of Love
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 2
Label: Teldec
Release Date: 5/18/1999
Genres: Folk, Classical
Style: Opera & Classical Vocal
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 639842457026

This compilation of modern-day madrigals, the latest in a fascinating series of discs from the San Francisco-based all-male vocal group Chanticleer, won the Grammy for Best Small Ensemble Performance of 1999. The selections range over a variety of styles and aesthetics, from the haunting, hypnotic sounds of Steven Stucky's Cradle Songs to the archaic, ethereal beauty and Eastern inflections of John Tavener's "Village Wedding." There are the soft (and somewhat affected) asperities of Bernard Rands' Canti d'Amor as well as the gentle, almost English pastoralism of Zhou Long's "Words of the Sun" (beautiful!) and the colorfully exotic Orientalism of Chen Yi's Tang Poems. Other examples of the wide range here are the self-conscious busywork of Augusta Read Thomas's Love Songs to the darkly lush, 12-part weave of Steven Sametz's "In Time Of," with its radiant climax and pulsating chordal sonorites like the tolling of bells. All of this Chanticleer sings with striking freshness and commitment, virtuosic to a fare-thee-well, always sensitive to the emotional cues of the texts. The recording, made at Skywalker Ranch in January of 1999, is vivid and warm, and so is much of the music. Truly a winning disc. --Ted Libbey

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CD Reviews

One of the best I've picked up in ages
ragamala78 | USA | 11/25/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"First of all let me state that the 4 stars isn't for the performance...which is truly is for a few pieces that are a tad sub-par. I also want to mention that its not that the pieces are modern either, I happen to be extremely sympathetic to modern music. I usually don't like to do reviews this way, but I'm going to make a few comments piece by piece:1) CRADLE SONGS - The first two of this trio of lullabies are great...the ones from Brazil & Poland are hauntingly beautiful...I'm not so crazy about the one from Tobago. A fairly strong piece, its certainly interesting.2) VILLAGE WEDDING - This is one of the best three pieces on the album, and probably the best. Hearing John Tavener's work next to his contemporaries is an easy indicator of why he is considered one of this century's greatest and certainly one of the greatest living composers. Simultaneously it is joyous, austere, reverent & spiritual. Simply beautiful & amazing.3) CANTI D'AMOUR - This is an up & down work. I'm not sure what the composer had in mind, but I find the first part to be amusing. It reminds me of barbershop quartet. It has more somber moments too that are quite moving. Overall though, its okay.4) WORDS OF THE SUN - After the Tavener piece, this is my favorite one. I would like to hear some of Zhou Long's other works. It is a very subtle piece. Very Chinese too, yet simultaneously western. This is one of my favorite pieces by eastern composers of western music. Lyrically, it is amazing. Its borrowed from a 20th century Chinese poem that is gorgeous in English, I'm sure its even more so in Chinese. Musically, it is very stirring. 5) TANG POEMS - This piece too is written by a Chinese composer (Chen Yi) and it is distinctly Chinese. I am intrigued at some of the techniques used by the composer. I am really pleased with the piece, although I'm sure some find it a little "too eastern." It is extremely pretty if one is accustomed to eastern melodies. The 2nd part is a bit sharper and probably less accessible than the first part.6) THE RUB OF LOVE - One of the duller pieces on the album.7) IN TIME OF - Sublime. The opening few bars are unearthly. Definately one of the three best pieces. They definately need to keep this one in their concert repetoire (along with the Tavener and the two pieces by Chinese composers.) This is one of those works you have to hear to believe. 8) LOVE SONGS - This is a quirky collection of tunes by Augusta Read Thomas. It runs the gamut of serious to extremely silly. There are some strong points here, but some of it is too silly to stand the test of time ("Alas, The Love of Women"). Eventhough it is extremely unconventional, the part entitled "For Stony Limits Cannot Hold Love Out" is powerful. It is piercing & strange, but it really works with the text.There are times when I love everything on this CD, and times when some of it gets on my nerves. It is, however, never boring and the performances are superb. I highly congratulate Chanticleer for not sitting on their laurels. This is adventursome stuff and it works 90% of the time, which is more than I can say for 99% of the ensembles out there. I highly recommend this disc for "Village Wedding," "Words of the Sun," "In Time of," and "Tang Poems."Pick it up, be adventuresome. Enjoy."
Transcendent Vocalism
B. A Riesgraf | St. Cloud, Minnesota United States | 01/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This compilation is essential listening, especially (but not exclusively) for those already introduced to the marvels of Chanticleer. It features a wide variety of contemporary madrigals all dedicated to the theme of love. Gorgeous polyphony, entrancing dissonance; the music is very difficult, but Chanticleer's vocalism is exemplary, as always. The whole feel of the album takes some getting used to for the uninitiated. After a few listenings, though, one can fully perceive its unique and sublime beauty.

Highlights abound. The first three tracks, all lullabies by Steven Stucky, are brilliantly executed, but it is track four, Village Wedding by John Taverner, that first knocked my socks off. It seems to represent the absolutely ideal match between composer and performer, between written and sung text. It consists of a wonderful poem by Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos, with a recurring excerpt from the Eastern Orthodox wedding ceremony interspersed throughout. Taverner is himself a member of the Eastern Orthodox church, and the song is as much a spiritual experience as a musical one.

Another fantastic piece is Words of the Sun, by Chinese composer Zhou Long. It is probably the most accessible song on the CD, with numerous lovely subtleties and nuances that can be fully appreciated after multiple exposures.

Lastly, I'd like to express my sincere conviction that In Time Of (by Steven Sametz, set to a poem by E.E. Cummings) is the single most gorgeous piece of music I have ever had the great fortune to hear. The sonority is perfectly balanced, each arching phrase better than the one before. Please, for the sake of pure unadulterated beauty, purchase this CD. You will not regret it."
Fantastic recording of contemporary choral works
C. P. Cooman | Cambridge, MA USA | 09/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Chanticleer is one of the USA's finest choral ensembles, and they have picked a marvelous and diverse program for this recording -- with something that would appeal to absolutely everybody. The inclusion of two "husband-wife" pairs in the choice of music also makes for a special connection to the theme of the disc. Of special note to this reviewer are the "delicious" sonorities of Bernard Rands's "Canti d'Amor" and Augusta Read Thomas's "Love Songs" -- Chanticleer is a group who is able to pull off this difficult music beautifully. This recording was absolutely deserving of the Grammy that is received -- one of the finest discs of modern choral music in the past few years."