COMPOSERS: Drescher et al,Durufle,Eben,E≥envalds,Gjeilo,Guerrero,Mawby,Miskinis,Reger,Wawer
LABELS: Rondeau Production
ALBUM TITLE: Shimmering
WORKS: Works by Gjeilo, Duruflé, Wawer, Guerrero, Eben, Mawby, E≥envalds, Reger, Miskinis, Drescher et al
PERFORMER: Ensemble LaCappella
CATALOGUE NO: ROP6094
Formed in 2004, the six-piece, all-female LaCapella first began singing together as children while preparing for their first communion in a small village near Frankfurt. The ensemble’s origins are made much of in Shimmering, an album released in celebration of the group’s 10th anniversary which comprises unaccompanied vocal works grouped around the theme of the Virgin Mary.
Variously exploring Mary’s role as icon, saint and mother, the album features a broad range of lesser-known contemporary European compositions placed alongside celebrated Renaissance and Romantic works. These newer pieces are somewhat mixed. Petr Eben’s strident De Angelis and the deceptively simple Lux Aeterna from Wolfgang Drescher yield spirited, nuanced performances, but are offset by a number of more saccharine contemporary works, which are not aided by occasionally shaky intonation and a somewhat safe and uniform vocal timbre.
A highlight comes with In Meeres Mitten, the first of three Schumann settings included, where a bolder, richer tone emerges alongside much more expressive diction. The disc’s closing number Es Saß ein klein wild Vögelein (based on a Transylvanian folk song and co-arranged by ensemble member Magdalena Bauer) also offers something punchier. LaCapella’s shimmering is thus no doubt a peaceable offering, it could just use a bit more guts and a few more risks.