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Reviews: Gubaidulina: The Canticle of the Sun - Wispelwey/Reuss

Reviews: 1

Review by mandel March 4, 2006 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Sonics:  
The Canticle of the Sun is an unusual piece, but 'unusual' is a term that could be applied to pretty much any Gubaidulina composition. The ensemble consists of solo cello, choir and percussion, even using the sound of somebody rubbing the rims of wine glasses. The cellist is required to use a fair amount of extended technique and in part of the piece play a flexatone. The music is very much textural, there is dissonance but it is never harsh, at least to my ears. To fully enjoy this type of music the listener really has to relax into the overall SOUND rather than just follow the development of the piece. Of all Gubaidulina I have heard so far this is the most beautiful, but beautiful in a non-traditional way.

Preludes for Violoncello Solo are interesting but nothing too special. This would be a good time though to appreciate just how beautiful and dark the tone of Wispelwey's cello is on this disc. The sound of the cello bounces around the front soundstage a bit on this piece though but it doesn't on the other two (for the first piece it is on the right, for the third on the left but here we have 20 foot cello syndrome). The engineer probably thought the solo sound needed some width, just sounds artificial though.

In Croce for Cello and Bajan is wonderful. The contrast between the two instruments (one high, one low) is explored first then they are gradually brought together for a climax after which the music becomes calmer. According to the liner notes the piece moves in this way for symbolic reasons, it is still a very nice piece though when just enjoyed as pure music.


Multichannel (5.0) sonics: Moderate use of the centre channel, it helps focus the centre of the stereo spread but isn't given as much signal as the stereo pair. The rears give good ambience without being distracting. The music sounds like it is being performed in a fair sized room, not a big concert hall. The video clip on the Channel Classics website shows this impression to be accurate. The sound is warm while still being clear and focused (this what I love about a good surround recording), lacking a little in top end though.

I'm not giving a star rating for performance as I don't have any other recordings of the piece to compare with and to be honest haven't heard much similar either. I'll leave quantifying the unquantifiable to somebody more experienced and instead just say that everything is well played/sung and with plenty of emotion.

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