Scelsi, Schwehr, Webern, Ligeti, Xenakis, etc

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: etc,Ligeti,Scelsi,Schwehr,Webern,Xenakis
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Nuits Ð Weiss Wie Lilien
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Schola Heidelberg, Ensemble Aisthesis/Walter Nussbaum
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1090
A curious compilation of 20th-century vocal works. Though the performances by the Schola Heidelberg are highly accomplished, it is hard to see the significant connections between the miniatures brought together here, or what it reveals about the composers involved. Even the sequence of choral pieces is not consistent, for the oldest work, Webern’s Drei Lieder, Op. 18, from 1925, is not a choral piece at all, though his Zwei Lieder, Op. 19, composed the following year, is; the bulk of the disc comes from the second half of the century, from Schoenberg’s 1950 a cappella setting of Psalm 130, ‘De profundis’, to Toshio Hosokawa’s bland ‘Ave Maria’ from 1991.

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Both Nuits, Xenakis’s impassioned tribute to the victims of repression, and Ligeti’s evanescent Lux aeterna are familiar works, and the two pieces by Scelsi – the Tre canti sacri, one of his first excursions into microtones, and TKRDG, for male voices, percussion and electric guitar – have also been recorded before. But it is fascinating to encounter René Leibowitz’s 1966 settings of William Blake, laconic, elegant essays in 12-note technique, and especially Cornelius Schwehr’s compelling 1990 Deutsche Tänze, for five female voices, based upon a text by Brecht, and moving between speech, song and noise with impressive fluency. Andrew Clements