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Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Shall I Compare Thee? Choral settings on Shakespeare Texts
Kevin OLSON (b.1970)

Summer Sonnet [4.46]
Martha SULLIVAN (b.1964)

Blow, blow thou winter wind [2.37]
Jaakko MÄNTYJÄRVI (b.1963)

Four Shakespeare Songs (1984) [11.53]
Matthew HARRIS (b.1956)

It was a Lover and his Lass [3.09]
Take O Take Those Lips Away [1.35]
Who is Sylvia? [1.21]
And Will AíNot Come Again? [2.39]
John RUTTER (b.1945)

It was a Lover and his Lass (1975) [2.28]
Nils LINDBERG (b.1933)

Shall I compare? (1998) [2.26]
Håkan PARKMAN (1955-1988)

Madrigal (Take O Take Those Lips Away) [1.37]
Sonnet 147 (My love is as a fever) [3.03]
György ORBÁN (b.1947)

Orpheus with his lute (early 1990s) [2.20]
O Mistress mine! [1.03]
Juhani KOMULAINEN (b.1953)

Four Ballads of Shakespeare [10.00]
Robert APPLEBAUM (b.1941)

Spring [2.51]
Witchesí Blues [4.53]
Sonnet 18 (Shall I compare thee to a summerís day?) [3.13]
Chicago a cappella
Jonathan Miller (bass and artistic director)
Recorded at Northeastern Illinois University, November 2004 and March 2005-11-14
CEDILLE CDR 90000 085
[63.00]


Many of the works here derive from Chicago a cappellaís (two "pís" and in italics) all-Shakespeare competition held in 2003. Zest was added inasmuch as all the pieces should all be Chicago premieres. This is an invaluable spur to propagating new music, though whether it makes for as stimulating an experience on disc is another matter.

I donít want to sound tetchy but having listened to the disc twice I canít remember much about it. It actually begins quite promisingly with Kevin Olsonís bossa nova and Californian sun kissed version of "Summer Sonnet", rather better known as Sonnet 18 [Shall I compare thee to a summerís day?]. There are plenty of virtuosic demands on the nine-person group and for the solo voice, with the final cadences sounding Stan Getz-like in their sinuous saxophonic lines. Matthew Harrisís It was a Lover and his Lass also impresses with its languid, openhearted and distinctly American feel and his And Will AíNot Come Again evokes a timely Renaissance spirit. John Rutterís sole contribution has a jazz-lite feel Ė shades of Ella Fitzgerald haunt his version of It was a Lover and his Lass.

Gyorgy Orbán contributes a pop-flecked O Mistress mine and Juhani Komulainen contributes To be or not to be, the final Renaissance flourish of which is not sufficient to atone for the amorphousness thatís preceded it. One appreciates that setting such lines bears a huge weight of literary-historical significance so perhaps itís better for Komulainen that heís not English. He must have a bizarre view of Macbeth to set To-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow/Creeps in this petty pace from day to day in such a fashion - more Dogma than Bergmann, this frivolous setting. Robert Applebaumís gently laid-back swing enlivens the Act IV Witches scene from Macbeth [Double, double, toil and trouble] complete with cat miaows.

For the most part though, however adeptly sung (and they certainly are), these are examples of composers unable to make linguistic, expressive and intellectual connections with their material. The texts are printed in full, just to rub it in.

Jonathan Woolf

 

 



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