Founded in 1991 by French choral director Laurence Equilbey, the 32-member Choeur de Chambre Accentus' 1996 Virgin recording of a cappella songs and ballads by Brahms and Schumann is as clear and lovely as a cloud-flecked sky in early October. Composed during his early years in Hamburg, Brahms' Gesänge, Op. 42, are robustly romantic, while his Gesänge, Op. 104, composed during his late maturity in Vienna, are autumnally nostalgic. Composed primarily in Dresden, Schumann wrote his Romanzen und Ballades about the same time he started his long, slow decline into madness. But in these performances by the Accentus Chamber Choir, all the music -- early, mature, or melancholy -- sounds crisp, alert, and strong. There's smooth power in the unison fortes and massed harmonies leavened with a palpable sense of enjoyment in the singing as well as affection for the music. While some sticklers for diction might quibble about Accentus' clean pronunciation, it's hard to object to less harsh consonants in choral singing. Caught in cool, full, and detailed sound, this disc will be an enjoyable way for fans of nineteenth century German choral music to spend an hour or so.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Songs (3) for chorus, Op. 42|
|Songs (5) for chorus (vocal sextet), Op. 104|
|Romanzen und Balladen I (5), for mixed chorus, Op. 67|