French cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton is no stranger to developing projects that take her beyond the traditional repertoire; other CDs of her transcriptions include Chants juifs and Chants d'est: Songs from Slavic Lands. Here she juxtaposes her arrangements for three cellos of Monteverdi madrigals (some of which were made with Franck Krawczyk) with excerpts from Giacinto Scelsi's massive trilogy, The Three Ages of Man for solo cello. The Monteverdi selections are not from among his greatest hits, and divorced from the texts that the music so vividly illustrates, they come across as strangely abstract, more closely related to the sound world of Scelsi's modernism than it would have been possible to imagine. The Vita (Life) of the album's title is presented largely as a darkly meditative and sometimes disturbingly grim prospect; the tone is for the most part subdued, contemplative, and mysterious, with moments, particularly in the Scelsi, that erupt into angst and grief. This may not be the general listener's cup of tea, but it is well executed and could appeal to fans of somber string chamber music. Wieder-Atherton's playing is always intelligent and daringly honest. She is not afraid to allow her tone to become thin and white, and not particularly beautiful, in expressing empty, drained desolation when the music calls for it. Cellists Sarah Iancu and Matthieu Lejeune adopt a tone that matches Wieder-Atherton's. The tone of the performances couldn't be called warm, but it is expressive of a reserved, enervated sadness. The sound of Naïve's CD is present and vividly detailed.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
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