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Accentus: Transcriptions

Samuel Barber , Gustav Mahler , Knut Nystedt , Fryderyk Chopin , Maurice Ravel , Hugo Wolf , Pascale Costes , Alban Berg , Claude Debussy , Laurence Equilbey , Jean-Francois Chiama , Francois Lombard , Solange Anorga , Catherine Ravenne , Pierre Jeannot , Accentus Chamber Choir Audio CD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Accentus: Transcriptions + Transcriptions 2 + A Cappella
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Product Details

  • Performer: Alban Berg, Claude Debussy, Laurence Equilbey, Jean-Francois Chiama, Francois Lombard, et al.
  • Orchestra: Pascale Costes
  • Conductor: Hugo Wolf
  • Composer: Samuel Barber, Gustav Mahler, Knut Nystedt, Fryderyk Chopin, Maurice Ravel
  • Audio CD (August 19, 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Valois
  • ASIN: B00008GFOH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,698 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Agnus Dei, for chorus (arr. from 2nd mvt. of String Quartet), Op. 11
2. Adagietto, for orchestra (from the Symphony No. 5)
3. Immortal Bach (After Bach's Chorale Come Sweet Death), for chorus
4. Etude for piano No. 6 in E flat minor, Op. 10/6, CT. 19
5. Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé, song cycle for voice & ensemble (or piano): Soupir
6. Das verlassene Mägdlein ('Früh, wann die Hähne krähn'), song for voice & piano (Mörike Lieder)
7. Auf ein altes Bild ('In grüner Landschaft Sommerflor'), song for voice & piano (Mörike Lieder)
8. Early Songs (7), for voice & piano (or orchestra): Die Nachtigall
9. Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, song for voice & piano (or orchestra) (Rückert Lieder No. 3)
10. Les Angélus ('Cloches chrétiennes pour les matines'), song for voice & piano, L. 76
11. Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58, CT. 203: Largo (arranged as song: Lulajze, Jezuniu)

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4.9 out of 5 stars
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing choral performances November 4, 2003
By Birdman
I concur with the previous reviewer. Accentus has surpassed all their previous releases here. In particular, the performance of the Mahler Adagietto (from Symphony No. 5) is heart-rending and technically astonishing, as solo sopranos and mezzos take on the lines of different strings. There is not a bad cut in the lot, though the Barber Agnus Dei is becoming one of the most overrecorded pieces in the catalog. The recorded sound is clearest when one plays the CD at moderate volume. There is, with only one or two exceptions, no loss of dynamic range. While I noticed some roll-off distortion during a few forte passages, reducing the volume minimizes the problem. Naive has one of the most daring and consistently tasteful catalogues in the business, and this Accentus album is a great introduction to the label, and to a choir that has created the most distinctive technique of any I've heard in my lifetime.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Choir in Less Than Clear Sound September 14, 2003
Accentus is a French a cappella choir of 32 voices founded and directed by Laurence Equilbey in 1991; on the basis of this recording I'd warrant that she is a superb choir builder and director. I'd heard wonderful things about them but had never heard anything they'd recorded. Here we have a collection of transcriptions of pieces originally written for instruments (or instruments and solo voice) sung impeccably. The only problem is that at high dynamic levels there tends to be some distortion; I played the disc on four different playback setups and got the distortion each time. A real pity.

As to the performances themselves, they are nothing short of sensational. The program starts with Barber's own transcription of his 'Adagio for Strings' (itself a transcription of a movement from his string quartet) to the words of the Agnus dei. Then we have an impressive and moving choral setting by Gérard Pesson of the Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth Symphony; it is set to words of August von Platen.

There are two Chopin transcriptions by Franck Krawczyk: 'Lacrimosa,' from the Op. 10, No. 6 Etude, and 'Lulajze, Jezuniu' ('Sleep, little Jesus') set to the Largo from Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 58. They are both quite beautiful.

The main transcriber on this disc is Clytus Gottwald, who transcribed six other pieces including Ravel's 'Soupir,' Wolf's 'Die verlassene Mägdlein' and 'Auf ein altes Bild,' Berg's 'Die Nachtigall,' Debussy's 'Les Angelus.' He tends to use the overlapping choral technique pioneered by Gyorgy Ligeti which creates a kind of aural haze. This is very effective in the impressionistic pieces (and in the second of the Wolf songs), much less so in the German transcriptions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transcendent! January 9, 2007
I first heard a selection (Mahler's Adagietto) from this CD on the radio, and I had to buy it. This music is some of the most beautiful I have ever heard (and I have many years' experience as a pianist, organist, and opera and choral singer). I first loved the aforementioned Adagietto, but have later come to relish even more the second Malher piece on the CD; I use it during meditation, and it takes me to a deep, peaceful, spiritual place. Also, the Ravel piece Soupir ("sigh") is just beyond words--the colorings of the vocal expression, the seamless blend of this ensemble. It's like butter!! I do not know if this ensemble has other recordings, but I would snatch them up as soon as I found out about them. However, to be balanced, the inner selections on the CD, tracks 6,7, and 8, while intricate and well performed, do not rise to the heights of the others I mentioned. But then, how often does one like every cut on an album?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars heart-stabbing November 16, 2011
Some times, one must simply lay down one's defenses (e.g. one's critical sense) and give oneself entirely to the beauty of the music. This is a typical chart-breaker, another Hildegarde von Bingen type of hit. Classical music for the illeterate masses? No, the kind that you want to offer your friends at Christmas - even if they ARE amateurs and cognoscenti of classical music.

The two opening pieces - originally Samuel Barber's Adagio for strings and the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler's 5th Symphony, the latter made famous beyond the public of classical music by its use in the film of Lucchino Visconti "Death in Venice" - are beautiful of course, among the great warhorses of collections of orchestral encores, but the arrangements sung by Laurence Equilbey's chamber chorus Accentus are equally beautiful, and illuminating, elegiac and intense, with the a cappella chorus functioning, really, as a vocal orchestra. You'd think Barber and Mahler had first written their respective piece for chorus, and only later adapted it for orchestra - which, in the case of Barber, isn't s far from what happened, since he penned himself the choral arrangement of the Adagio, under the form of an Agnus Dei, in 1967, more than thirty years after the original piece (the composition for string orchestra by which the Adagio is most famous being itself an arrangement of the slow movement of his string quartet). But it was brilliant also of French composer/arranger Gérard Pesson to follow that model and set Mahler's Adagietto not for wordless chorus, but on a text ("prima la musica poi le parole", first the music then the lyrics, a process known in Jazz as "vocalese", in classical music as "pasticcio", in the Middle Ages, says Pesson, as "tropos logogenos, and today as post-synchronization).
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