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Debussy: Le Martyre de Saint S├ębastien

Collegium Vocale Gent
SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden und Freiburg/Sylvain Cambreling

Glor Classics -CD GC08181

It is always interestingto explore unfamiliar labels, but these Bade-Baden SWR recordings betray a parochialism in their presentation akin to what england had long been accused of.

A rewarding new account of a 77 mins version of the nearly 4 hours original Debussy rarity, a dramatic mix of opera, oratorio, ballet and spoken theatre, should appeal to admirers of, say, Messiaen's equally expansive St Francis of Assisi opera.

It sounds great, whether the sonorous orchestra and choir, the solo singers (in French) or the narrator (in German), but without translations of either into English.

Collectors will have been there before; the only version with English translation was Ingelbrecht's (1960), which Classical CD Review dismissed because "the playing is scrappy and the sung and spoken components progressively insufferable".

So perhaps, in my linguistic ignorance, I got the best of it as just music...

Choral Music of the 20th Century II

Martin, F
: Mass for Double Choir
Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9 for chorus or string orchestra
Poulenc: Figure humaine

EuropaChorAcademie, Sylvain Cambreling

Glor Classics - GC09211

Less of a problem with the other disc received from this source; no one needs the words of the Mass translated, and Frank Martin's is an admirable example of a rapprochement between "achaisms and modernisms" composed in the early 1920s, but not performed until 1963. And Villa-Lobos has his choir wordless for the Bachianas Brasilieras No 9. Listeners who are allergic to the La La La (familiar in English folky settings) may prefer to explore the string orchestra version...

Bt the rub here is Poulenc's Eluard masteriece, Figure humaine. Word and music are inxtricably married in Poulenc's vocal music, and whilst Josard Daus' EuropaChorAcademie sings marvellously for Sylvain Cambreling, Glor Classics again does not cater for english speaking collectors.

Peter Grahame Woolf