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Choral Songs on Shakespeare Texts

Chicago a cappella

Amy Conn, soprano
Kathleen Dietz, soprano
Elizabeth Grizzell, mezzo
Susan Schober, mezzo
Harold Brock, tenor
Trevor Mitchell, tenor
Matthew Greenberg, baritone
Aaron Johnson, baritone
Jonathan Miller, bass & artistic direction

Kevin Olson (b. 1970) Summer Sonnet
Martha Sullivan (b. 1964) Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Jaakko Mäntyjärvi (b. 1963) Four Shakespeare Songs
Matthew Harris (b. 1956) It Was a Lover and his Lass; Take, O Take Those Lips Away; Who is Silvia?; And Will A'Not Come Again?
John Rutter (b. 1945) 11 It Was a Lover and his Lass
Nils Lindberg (b. 1933) Shall I compare?
Håkan Parkman (19551988) Madrigal (Take, O Take Those Lips Away) Sonnet 147 (My love is as a fever)
György Orbán (b. 1947) Orpheus with his lute; O mistress mine!
Juhani Komulainen (b. 1953) Four Ballads of Shakespeare: To be, or not to b; O weary night; Three words; Tomorrow and tomorrow
Robert Applebaum (b. 1941) Spring; Witches' Blues; Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Cedille CDR 90000 085
Cedille Records (Recorded:2004/2005 at Northeastern Illinois University; 63:00)

This is a delightful and original CD from across the Atlantic, with various settings of favourite poems cross-referenced in the attractive booklet.

The nine singers are fresh voiced, beautifully tuned and convey joy in singing. I could have preferred a little American inflection though, epecially in a song like Applebaum's jazz-inflected Witches' Blues. His witches are, indeed, a bit too comfortable; I prefer Mäntyjärvi's, whose Shakespeare Songs are gems in this collection; c.f. my extensive writing about this most interesting composer.

Others that arrested my attention were György Orbán's of two well-known poems; Komulainen, by contrast, has tackled texts that few others would have thought to set to music. The Chicagans' diction is so good that the texts supplied are almost unnecessary for these mostly familiar words. Recommended warmly.

See also Chicago a cappella's recordings for Centaur Records reviewed by Musical Pointers


© Peter Grahame Woolf