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Nicolas KAVIANI (b.1977)
Te Deum (2005) [24:41]
Tous les matins du monde for 16 unaccompanied voices (2014) [5:08]
Martina Králíková (soprano); Barbora Polášková (alto); Juraj Nociar (tenor); Jiří Pribyl (baritone); Karel Martínek (organ)
Janáček Opera Choir/Pavel Koranek
Prague Mixed Chamber Choir/Jiří Petrdlík
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra/Petr Vronský
rec. 2014, Reduta Hall, Olomouc (Te Deum), St. Moritz Church, Olomouc (organ for Te Deum); Martin Hall, Prague Academy of Performing Arts (Tous les matins du monde)
Includes DVD documentary on the making of the recordings [23:00]
Texts for Tous les matins but not for the Te Deum
NAVONA RECORDS NV6021 [29:49 + DVD: 23:00]

Nicholas Kaviani has produced this CD and DVD release that documents two of his works. The DVD offers 23 minutes that follow the recording sessions, whilst the CD lasts a shade under half an hour. The gatefold double, which houses both discs, shows the composer in formal attire, gazing heavenward whilst the back shows him looking more akin to the late Steve Martland, though his gaze is still toward the heavens.

Regarding the DVD, a French voiceover narrates over some (but by no means all) of the English conversation – was the product intended for the French market as well? I tried but couldn’t excise it. The recording sessions took place in the Czech Republic which doubtless offered him competitive financial rates, but reveal a tetchy composer coping with rushed studio time. Listening to multiple takes can’t have been easy, especially when the composer, I infer from something he says, is funding the whole undertaking himself.

The Te Deum was recorded in Olomouc with forces directed by Petr Vronský who has recorded some fine Martinů discs down the road with the Brno Philharmonic. The music is classically conceived and strongly contrapuntal, strenuously celebratory, and strangely Haydnesque. Though secular and humanistic, it sounds no different, in effect, from a work with a spiritual impulse. The soloists are full-bloodied, though committed. What’s unavoidable is the awful recorded sound. The strings are glassy and almost synthetic, whilst the percussion is tinny. The whole thing sounds terribly cramped, acoustically speaking, and a chore to listen to. I listened via speakers.

Tous les matins du monde is cast for 16 unaccompanied voices and was recorded in Prague. It’s a much different and superior work to the pastiche-sounding Te Deum, which seems to have no real sense of personalisation to it. In this unaccompanied setting, though brief, there’s a more intriguing and complex musician on display, one moreover more directly communicative. The difficulties of recording an orchestra, choir and soloists on short rations are not, thankfully, replicated here. The sound is naturally more sympathetic.

I am really not sure that this was the best way for Kaviani to go. A portfolio of his compositions, well recorded and if necessary for smaller forces to defray costs, would have served him better. The DVD is largely redundant. I’ve seen this set on sale for Ł21 for 30 minutes of music, which is economic suicide. The download is around Ł8. I think Kaviani should have a re-think about the best way to promote his music, as this isn’t it.

Jonathan Woolf



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