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Clytus Gottwald - Transkriptionen
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Soupir – Three Poems by Stéphane Mallarmé [3:53]
La vallée des cloches [6:20]
André CAPLET (1878-1925)
Trois Fragments du Miroir de Jésus:-
Présentation [3:18]
Agonie au Jardin [2:19]
Résurrection [3:08]
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992)
Louange ŕ l’Éternité de Jésus [7:34]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Soupir [3:32]
Alban BERG (1885-1935)
Drei Lieder aus Sieben frühe Lieder:-
Die Nachtigall [2:35]
Im Zimmer [1:29]
Traumgekrönt [3:30]
Heinz HOLLIGER (b.1939)
Zwei frühe Lieder nach Texten von Christian Morgenstern:-
Vöglein Schwermut [3:43]
Herbst [3:14]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Zwei Studien zu ‘Tristan und Isolde’:-
Im Treibhaus
[Act III Scene I] [5:37]
Träume [Act II – O sink hernieder, Nacht der liebe] [3:40]
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen [6:43]
SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart/Marcus Creed
rec. Villa Berg, SWR Stuttgart 2003-2006; the Mahler Live at the Evang.Kirche, Stuttgart-Gaisburg
CARUS 83.181 [64:09]

You may know the name Clytus Gottwald for his many transcriptions for a capella choir. The source material can take the form of lieder or instrumental works. “Orchestrating voices” is something to which Gottwald has devoted much of his compositional career, spurred on by the example of Ligeti and his Lux Aeterna
Naturally one’s first exposure to this kind of procedure is apt to be rather disconcerting. Starting with Ravel’s Soupir gives one a considerable jolt. For La vallée des cloches Gottwald utilises a text by Paul Verlaine – Nevermore – which is textually related to bell peals. The former is quietly hypnotic, the latter uses distancing dynamics to replicate the pealing – “sonnez clochettes! sonnez cloches!”
Gottwald brings out the Gregorian archaisms implicit in the Caplet and for the Messiaen increases the choir to nineteen voices. This is a collage of the composer’s own texts originally written for Trois petites liturgies de la Présence divine. The Messiaen composition Louange ŕ l’Éternité de Jésus was originally composed for cello and piano. The choral version is broad and effective.
For the Berg Gottwald had a more precise job – he employed Ligeti’s idea of micro-polyphony. The result to my ears sounds very strongly Brahmsian. The sopranos are pushed very high and the high D in Die Nachtigall sounds, well, not good. The Holliger works are early but are fruitful transcriptions from Gottwald for an old colleague.
The Wagner transcriptions are idiomatic – others exist of course, Wagner having transcribed Träume for violin and piano, in which form it achieved a certain celebrity. About the Mahler Gottwald is apparently a touch complacent, informing the reading world that “it has become so widely known that to add to the many existing introductions to this piece seems superfluous.” Perhaps not, Herr Gottwald, one is tempted to reply.
Creed’s expertise in this kind of repertoire needs no seconding from me and the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart copes well with the demands – except when they are unnecessarily exorbitant. Full texts and the usual fine production values from Carus complete the package.
Jonathan Woolf




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