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  Classical Editor: Rob Barnett  
Founder Len Mullenger   

Bella Musica Edition
Bella Musica Edition (Antes Edition)
D-77815 BUHL
Telephone: +49 (0)7223-98550
Telefax: +49 (0)7223-985566

Karlsruher Männerquartett

So ein Kuss kommt von allein
GROTHE ‘So ein Kuss kommt von allein’
KREISLER ‘Liebesleid’
PLESSOW ‘Warn die Sonja russisch tanzt’
WILDEN ‘Knic-Tango’
HUPFELD ‘Der Onkel Bumba aus Kaiumba tanzt nur Rumba’
HEYMAN ‘Das ist die Liebe der Matrosen’
BOCCHERINI ‘Lieselotte, lass uns auf die Wiese gelm’
JURMANN ‘Veronika, der Lenz ist do’
ABRAHAM ‘Bin kein Haulatmann, bin kein groBes Tier’
CARMICHAELL ‘Georgia on my mind’
PALMER ‘Boog it’ (Live-Version)
KAHN ‘Dream a little dream of me’
SCHONBERGER ‘Whispering’
GERSHWIN ‘I got rhythm’
Ronnie MILSAP ‘It was almost like a song’
Franz SCHUBERT ‘An die Entfernte’ ‘Nächtliches Ständchen’ ‘Grab und Mond’ ‘Die Nacht’
Friedrich SILCHER ‘Haidenrbsiein’ ‘Oberschwilbisches Tanziledchon’ ‘Es muse geschieden sein’
Bernhard FLIES ‘Schlafe micin Prinwhen, schlafein’
Karlsruher Männerquartett (Barbershop Sixpack): Johannes Peter, (ten); Andreas Haas, (ten); Daniel Chroust, (bar); Georg Peter, (bass)
Recorded December 2003 and February 2004 SWR Studio Karlsruhe
BELLA MUSICA BM 31.6525 [53.51]

Barber Shop Music has a very honourable tradition in music history. One of the regular haunts of music in the 16th and 17th centuries was the barber’s shop. Customers waiting their turn would find simple instruments on which they could strum and on which the barbers themselves had become, with practise, proficient. In English literature of the period, allusions to barbers as serious musicians are numerous. However, the tradition died out in England in the early 18th century, lasting longer in America where ‘barber shop harmony’ surfaced. This close harmony singing enjoyed major expansion in the second half of the 20th century with national and international competitions, the latter often focused on America. Nowadays there are both male and female ‘barber shop’ groups of varying sizes.

The present CD under review uses the term ‘sixpack’ in its heading. In contemporary colloquial English I gather this refers to standard packs of beer and also to the intercostal muscles where these are not obscured by the consequences of over indulgence of the liquid namesake. Here I think it refers to the fact that from 1985-1989 this was a group of six singers reducing to five (1990-1992) and four (1993-1997). The current group is four in number including three of the original members. If the foregoing detail about the group is rather tentative I apologise. All the written information in the brief leaflet is in German and the other detail is gleaned from the captions of the group photographs taken at various times in their history. Fortunately the captions give the names of the group members and the years that those particular singers were participating.

Close harmony of this type no longer uses instruments. The musical harmony is performed by the mouth and lips modifying the sound from the vocal chords so as to give backing and support to the singing. It does not sound as if any of the group has received professional vocal training as solo singers, steady vocal emission not being a strong point. However, that is not the point of ‘barber shop’ singing. It is rather the marrying of the melody with the harmony of voice or voices so as to represent the compositional intention. The group achieve this in a wide variety of repertoire on this disc. That is not to imply that lieder enthusiasts would expect to enthuse over the Schubert extracts (trs. 16-19) but will recognise the underlying composition. In the same way enjoyment can be had in the recognition of a Tango (tr. 4) or Rhumba (tr. 5).

Given that contact telephone and e-mail addresses are given on the back of the leaflet, I suspect this is also a promotional disc. None-the-less it provides an opportunity for those with liberal and eclectic ears to broaden their horizons and is recommended as such.

Robert J Farr

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