Schmitt: Six Choruses, Op. 81; En bonnes voix; Three Trios, Op. 99; De vives voix; Five Refrains, Op. 132

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COMPOSERS: Schmitt
LABELS: Calliope
WORKS: Six Choruses, Op. 81; En bonnes voix; Three Trios, Op. 99; De vives voix; Five Refrains, Op. 132
PERFORMER: Calliope Women’s Choir/Régine Théodoresco; Carine Clément (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CAL 9307
No translation of the French song texts to Florent Schmitt’s complete works for female voices is on offer from Calliope, but perhaps the loss is not too great. When translations are attempted, the success is partial only: the choir, for example, is described as being ‘agées de dix-huit à trente ans’, rendered into English as ‘aged between 16 and 20’. Some distinctly matronly contraltos might have announced the error even if the French original had not, but whatever their ages, the Choeur de Femmes Calliope gives a good account of itself, displaying unity, passion and a welcome sense of humour in some of Schmitt’s more facetious forays. The works themselves are either a cappella or with piano accompaniment and encompass a range of moods: dramatic (‘Marionnettes’), plaintive (‘Si la lune rose’), contemplative (‘L’amoureuse’), with liberal dashes of jocularity (‘La mode commode’), plangency (‘La mort du rossignol’) and a great deal of whimsy (‘Tournez s’il vous plaît’, ‘D’un mille-pattes amoureux’, etc). Despite this variety, all the music suffers from a common ailment — a complete failure to stay in the memory — and forms a repertoire that is certainly more useful to a choir than it is grateful to a listener. Christopher Wood

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