Transcriptions Vol 2 / Equilbey, Añorga, Accentus, Et Al
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If you enjoyed this virtuoso choir's first transcriptions disc, you'll certainly want to have this follow-up recording; and if you're a choral fan and aren't yet acquainted with Accentus and its earlier program, you'll definitely want both of these exceptional discs. This one features the 40-voice choir in masterful transcriptions--as close to literal as possible--of both purely instrumental works (Vivaldi's "L'hiver" from the Four Seasons; several keyboard works by Bach, Debussy, Ravel, and Scriabin) and pieces originally for voice and either piano or orchestra (Schubert, Wagner, and Mahler songs). Where no texts were originally assigned, they are provided by the arrangers, ingeniously utilizing poetry of Rilke or Mallarmé, the Psalms, or the Requiem Mass.
While all of these settings are superbly accomplished and sung to the highest artistic and technical standard, perhaps the most impressive--I'd even use the word astonishing--is Clytus Gottwald's transcription of Debussy's piano piece "Des pas sur la neige". If you can't imagine how this lovely little prelude could be set with words and sung by a choir, well, you're in for a major surprise! It's so perfect in its realization and preservation of the original harmonic character, and yet the voices add such a unique atmospheric dimension that if you didn't know better you'd believe this could have been conceived for these forces. The same could be true for the selections from Ravel's Mother Goose, transcribed by Thierry Machuel. Franck Krawczyk's Vivaldi is quite clever and "fun", and the Schubert setting of Nacht und Träume is pure pleasure.
And that--pure pleasure--describes the whole disc, whose concept works because the arrangers/transcribers are so careful about and respectful of their source material, and are absolutely scrupulous in their treatment of voices relative to matters of range, register, textures, and expressive possibilities. In other words, if you know the original works, you will be completely at home here--but you also will experience new and pleasantly surprising facets of these pieces that only make them more rich and universally relevant. This is the kind of program--unique, virtuosic, yet easily accessible--that makes listening enjoyable and engaging, setting expectations for the next project, whatever it may be. Based on these performances--and knowing the adventurous and highly accomplished nature of this choir--I'm eagerly awaiting what's sure to be a worthy and very entertaining follow-up.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: V5048
Composer: Antonio Vivaldi, Claude Debussy, Franz Schubert, Gerard Pesson, Gustav Mahler, Maurice Ravel, Peter Cornelius, Richard Wagner, Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor: Laurence Equilbey
Orchestra/Ensemble: Accentus, Les monts du Reuil
Performer: Brigitte Engerer, Hélène Moulin, Romain Champion, Solange Añorga