Choral conductors are generally not viewed as being innovators, so dependent are they on realizing the letter and law of the scores they receive from composers. One choral conductor who can be classed as an innovator is Clytus Gottwald; as founder and longtime conductor of the Stuttgart Schola Cantorum, Gottwald piloted the group through the extremes of the vocal spectrum, redesigning from within the standard working methods of the chorus and inspiring composers to follow his lead. Over the years, Boulez, Ligeti, Kagel, and Penderecki -- just to name a few -- rose to meet the challenge, and Gottwald's recording of Ligeti's Lux Aeterna were among those used by Stanley Kubrick for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Along the way, Gottwald himself helped to vary the program with the Stuttgart Schola Cantorum by providing his own choral transcriptions of songs or even instrumental pieces, some by composers he knew personally such as Messiaen and Heinz Holliger, and others by older composers not well represented in choral literature -- Ravel, Debussy, Berg, and Richard Wagner for example. Marcus Creed's Clytus Gottwald: Transkriptionen, recorded with the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart and issued on the Carus-Verlag imprint, is an outstanding collection of some of Gottwald's efforts in this realm; it is especially valuable as there is no comparable package of these pieces under Gottwald's own baton.
The original Stuttgart Schola Cantorum disbanded in 1990 and Gottwald retired from conducting some two years before that. Not all of the repertoire Stuttgart Schola Cantorum developed in that time was widely available or even necessarily recorded. Here, Marcus Creed and the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart, a group that is the heir apparent to the Stuttgart Schola Cantorum, beautifully re-create Gottwald's transcriptions, some recorded for the first time. Some of these arrangements are milestones of choral composition, as Gottwald fully understood the resources of his choir, often dividing many parts among small groups of voices or for a mixture of voices and soloists. For instrumental works without texts, such as the "Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus" from Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, Gottwald developed highly creative solutions, deriving his text from another of Messiaen's works and simply re-editing it to fit the music.
Carus-Verlag's Clytus Gottwald: Transkriptionen is a highly satisfying collection for anyone who enjoys first-rate choral music; just listen to Gottwald's now famous arrangement of Mahler's Rückert lied "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" and it will make you a believer.