Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

CD REVIEW

 

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

 

alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS

 

Hear the voice
Thomas TALLIS
(1505–1585)
If ye love me; Hear the voice and prayer
Francis POULENC (1899–1963)
Quatre petites prières de Saint François d’Assise

Rudolf MAUERSBERGER (1889–1971)
Herr, lehre doch mich; De profundis
Josquin DES PREZ (1440–1521)
Magnus es tu, Domine/Tu pauperum refugium
Darius MILHAUD (1892–1974)
Psaume 121

William BYRD (1543–1623)
Ave verum corpus

Carl ORFF (1895–1982)
Sunt lacrimae rerum

Pierre DE LA RUE (1460–1518)
O salutaris hostia

Peter CORNELIUS (1824–1874)
Ach, wie nichtig, ach, wie fluchtig
Marcus LUDWIG (b. 1960)
Tenebrae

Ensemble Armarcord (Wolfram Lattke, Dietrich Barth, Frank Ozimek, Daniel Knauft, Hoger Krause)
with Jens Bauer (baritone) and Tobias Lange (bass)
rec. September 1998, March 19999, Stiftskirche St. Petri auf dem Petersberg bei Halle. DDD
APOLLON CLASSICS RK AP 10201 [58.04]


Ensemble Armacord are an all-male vocal ensemble, formed in 1992 from former members of St. Thomas’s Boy’s Choir. The group consists of a core of five singers (two tenors, one baritone and two basses) to which two extra performers are added for various tracks on this disc.

Though the upper voices in the group are billed as tenors, at least one of the tenors can double as a counter-tenor. On some of the tracks one of the singers floats easily to a high D (just over an octave above middle C).

The group has a healthy performance schedule and an interesting catalogue of CDs. This disc, which was issued in 2001, was actually recorded in 1997/98, so inevitably any comments on the group’s performances on the disc must reflect on the performers of ten years ago rather than their modern selves.

The recital is ambitious both in the range of music covered, musical styles and languages sung. That they bring it off is a testament to the group’s musicality even if there are some slips along the way.

They open the recital with a suave performance of Tallis’s If ye love me. This piece displays some of the group’s musical strengths, their fine sense of line, well focused sound and good blend. Their sound may well be agreeably blended but it is definitely not bland; they have a very up-front, forward sort of sound, which can be quite edgy. This is particularly conditioned by the sound of the two tenors Wolfram Lattke and Dietrich Barth, neither of whom has an exactly easy voice. But that said, I rather like the sound the group makes and found it very expressive.

Where they fall down in the Tallis is in the language as their English is just a little too accented for Tallis’s pure voiced lines and they are unable to make as much of the words as they need to.

The group seem to be on more comfortable ground with Poulenc’s Quatre petite prières de Saint François d’Assise. They sound convincingly French both in terms of the language and the sound-world that the music inhabits. These charming little pieces were written for the choir of the Franciscan monastery of Champfleury at the behest of his great nephew, Jérome who was a Franciscan monk. Though the pieces were written for a full choir, they come over well in the performances by the vocal ensemble.

Rudolf Mauersberger was a name that was new to me. He was a German composer who worked almost exclusively in sacred music, much of it for his own church. His setting Herr, lehre doch mich is expressive and wears its modernism lightly. The issue of language again raises its head as I felt that even in their native tongue, the group could have made more of the words.

The next piece lurches back 400 years as they perform Josquin’s double motet Magnus es tu, Domine / Tu pauperum refugium. Here, the limitations of their distinctive musical style become apparent as they seem to carry the sound-world of the more modern works into Josquin’s world. Nevertheless the performances are expressive and musical.

With Milhaud’s Psaume 121 the sound quality and music are once more in harmony. Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus has the same virtues as the group’s Tallis performance, but here they are more relaxed as they are singing in Latin rather than uncomfortable English. 

In Orff’s Sunt lacrimae rerum we hear echoes of plainchant and earlier music within the context of Orff’s own sound-world. These pieces use the same construction techniques as are familiar from Carmina Burana and this means that, attractive though they are, the pieces are hard work for the singers. Here I felt that a larger group of singers could have been helpful. In other pieces on the disc, the reduction of the number of performers was helpful in bringing a tightness and responsiveness to the expressiveness of the singing. But here, I thought that sheer weight of numbers would help the repetitions of Orff’s musical language. The singers were not helped by their reticence with the text, they could do with spitting out the consonants far more.

They follow this with Pierre de La Rue’s lovely O salutaris hostia and the group seem at home in this different, more relaxed context. 

In Peter Cornelius’s Ach, wie nichtig, ach, wie flüchtig, the group’s sound is unsuited to this most Romantic of late-Romantic music. The chromatic harmony of Cornelius’s idiom cries out for the warmth of a full-voiced chamber choir rather than the austerity of a few men’s voices. But given these restraints, the group gives a most musical performance.

More Tallis, this time Hear the voice and prayer. This has all the virtues of the first track on the disc and my comments about the English are the same.

They complete the recital with a contemporary piece, by Marcus Ludwig a young German composer based in Leipzig. Tenebrae is a setting of a Paul Celan poem. Ludwig wears his modernism lightly and the piece is written aptly for the ensemble, using contemporary idioms for expressive means but never stretching the singers beyond where they might reasonably want to go.

This is an ambitious recital and by and large it succeeds. It does so because, in all the pieces on the disc the group displays a fine musicality which compensates for whatever small faults that might be found.

The programme is well chosen, mixing the familiar and unfamiliar. So if you would like to hear some fine singing in a remarkable range of pieces, then do try this disc.

Robert Hugill 



 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

Return to Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.