In this Carus release, Frieder Bernius leads soloists from Kammerchor Stuttgart in a selection of transcriptions by Clytus Gottwald and original compositions for chorus subdivided into multiple parts, in this case, up to 16 parts. The arrangements, here of songs originally for solo voice and piano, demonstrate Gottwald's mastery of this niche genre; he has also made remarkably effective choral transcriptions of chamber music and work for full orchestra. The arrangements, of songs by Ravel, Debussy, and Schumann, work beautifully as choral music, even as independent compositions, considered apart from their sources. The CD's featured work is the world-premiere recording of a Mass for 16 voices by Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch, a German composer born 20 years earlier than Mozart. It's an attractive but unexceptional example of Classical conventions, but stands out for the complexity of the Baroque-style counterpoint that Fasch incorporates into the Classical sensibility. Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur's seven-movement Le Cantique des Cantiques, for 12 voices, written in 1952, is a melodically and harmonically sensuous setting of passages from the Song of Solomon. The performance here, though lovely and nuanced, doesn't quite capture the abandon of the music's erotic charge. In the Debussy and Ravel, too, Bernius and his singers just miss the Gallic fluidity these songs require. The performances of the German repertoire are entirely successful, though. The many lines of Fasch's contrapuntal web emerge with ideal clarity. The four Schubert songs are a highlight of the recording: warmly lyrical and richly Romantic. The soloists' voices are wonderfully pure and agile. These sound like singers who could indeed be soloists in their own right, not only members of a chorus, and their blend is luscious. The recorded sound is a little bright and sterile for this repertoire, which would benefit from more warmth and resonance.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Le cantique des cantiques, for unaccompanied voices|
|Préludes (12) for piano, Book I, L. 117|
|Missa a 16 voci|