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Luciano BERIO (1925- 2003)
Coro for 40 voices and 44 instrumentalists (1975-6 rev. 1977) [56:56]
Kölner Rundfunkchor, Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester/Luciano Berio
rec. October 1979, Studio WDR, Köln. ADD
first issued on LP: DG 2531 270 in 1980 then reissued in 2002 in DG’s 20/21 CD series as 471 587-2
Full tracklisting at end of review


Experience Classicsonline

Coro is associated with the 1973 coup in Chile in which socialist president Allende was murdered and in which General Pinochet came to power. That sense of outburst and held-down protest mixes with the flavour of folk music American Indian, Polynesian, Croatian, Persian and Italian. Berio’s Folksongs, written for Cathhy Berberian, make that connection again. Pablo Neruda's words 'Come and see the blood in the streets' overarch proceedings.

The dream of slow blooming dissonance hangs gently in smoky tendrils over this work in which voices and instruments exist in synergy. However this trippy psychedelia and soft shamble is leavened by onrushing clash and clamour. Passages are redolent of Messiaen’s brassy sunbursts and stained glass window explosions. Birdsong jostles hieratic mysticism. It’s all very soloistic as you may expect from a score specifying 40 voices and 44 instrumentalists with each singer sitting alongside a member of the orchestra. Protest is also a theme with beautiful folk-inflected - even Orffian – singing, usually for the female voices, roughing it against braying brass and spangled percussion. The piano is often to be heard.
Written to be played without pause the 31 segments are set out into sixteen tracks. Less helpfully texts are not provided. John Fallas’s useful notes complete the picture. They remind us that Coro was premiered at the Donaueschingen Festival on 24 October 1976. August 1977 saw the second performance – at the Salzburg Festival under Leif Segerstam.
Until I started googling Berio and Coro I had not realised that the DG 20/21 series on which this recording was first released is still accessible if only as downloads. The Berio are in the same series: DG 457 038-2.
Coro will certainly appeal to you if you are sympathetic to the headily dionysiac avant-garde of the 1970s. However, as someone whose allegiances lie away from those shores, I found this by no means a torturous listen. Neither will you if, for instance, you are well attuned to the orchestral music of Messiaen. Bargain price will reassure the nervous.

Rob Barnett

1 1. "Today is mine"-"Wake up woman rise up woman" [4:37]
2 2. "Venid a ver" [1:42]
3 3. "Your eyes are red" - IV. "Venid a ver" - V. "Your eyes are red"/"Stand up" [1:59]
4 6. "Venid a ver la sangre por las calles" - VII "Wake up woman rise up woman" [1:59]
5 8. "Venid a ver la sangre por las calles" [4:36]
6 9. "I have made a song" - X. "Venid a ver la sangre por las calles" - XI. "I have made a song" [3:52]
7 12. "Venid a ver la sangre" - XIII. "Wake up woman rise up woman" - XIV. "Venid a ver la sangre" [2:56]
8 15. "Komm in meine Nähe" - XVI. "Today is mine" [2:32]
9 17. "Pousse l'herbe e fleurit la fleur" - XVIII. "Go my strong charm/Venid a ver" - XIX. "It is so nice" - XX. "Your eyes are red/El día palido s asoma" [5:14]
10 21. "Mirad mi casa muerta" [3:31]
11 22. "Je m'en vais où ma pensée s'en va" [1:48]
12 23. "Pousse l'herbe et fleurit la fleur" - XXIV. Oh issa/Ich sehe Tautropfen/Komm in meine Nähe/Your~eye [2:54]
13 25. "Oh isselo in alto/Komm in meine Nähe" - "XXVI. "Come ascend the ladder" - XXVII. "When we came to this world" [3:34]
14 28. "El diá oscila rodeado" - XXIX. "Hinach yafà raayatí" [5:52]
15 30. "El diá palido se asoma" [4:44]
16 31. "Spin colours spin/El diá palido se asoma" [5:07]
Kölner Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester, Luciano Berio, Cologne Radio Chorus, Herbert Schernus
Coro is a major vocal / instrumental work by the charismatic composer Luciano Berio who also conducts this performance.
Berio (*1925) has succeeded in transcending the closed world of the European avant garde to address a wider public.
His music is challenging but attractive.
He has gained a worldwide reputation as one of the most prolific composers of the late 20th century.
The composer is already present in 20/21 with his highly successful complete Sequenzas



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