Marianne Schuppe

Incantations: The Art of Song of Giacinto Scelsi

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Anyone even slightly familiar with Giacinto Scelsi's sui generis methods of composition may guess that his vocal music follows some of the same esoteric principles and ideas of his rarefied instrumental works. Outside the conventions of lieder or text setting, the pieces on this 2005 release from New Albion are really free fantasias for voice on syllables with open vowels, which may have held secret meanings for the composer but can be taken simply as sounds by the uninitiated. Sauh I-IV (1973) is subtitled "Liturgy for voice with magnetic tape," so Scelsi's religious intentions are perhaps clearer here than in the less ritualistic but haunting invocations of Taiagarù (1962), and the fairly abstract and virtuosic Hô (1960), which only vaguely suggests Scelsi's personal mysticism. Marianne Schuppe's pure voice and sustained breathing are ideally suited to the simple, slow lines of Scelsi's quieter meditations, and in the few places where the vocalises reach feverish intensity, as in some of the angular or melismatic passages of Hô, she controls the ebb and flow of expression in an unforced but poignant manner, reminiscent of the great Jan de Gaetani. New Albion's resonant sound adds wonderful depth to Schuppe's vocal lines and creates in places an eerie ambience not inappropriate for Scelsi's otherworldly works. This album is highly recommended for people who like the soothing, "chill-out" qualities of unaccompanied vocal music, but who are looking for something a bit more interesting and challenging than Gregorian chants.

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