The music of Beat Furrer, Swiss-born (in 1954) and Vienna-based, has long attracted attention for its subtle exploration of the possibilities of the human voice. This first recording of his enigmas, a cycle of six a cappella settings of Leonardo (he has since added a seventh) demonstrates its striking emotional range, from rich, almost Romantic tonal warmth to dramatic avant-garde expressionism. It is complemented by two works which underline Furrer’s fondness for exploring sonority, timbre and texture.
Helsinki Chamber Choir
All Except * First Recordings
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Catalogue No: TOCC0360EAN/UPC: 5060113443601Release Date: 01.08.2016Composer: Beat Furrer Artists: Helsinki Chamber Choir,
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Michael Cayley :
Beat Furrer is a Swiss-born composer living in Austria. These are modernist choral works which are extremely economical in their use of musical motifs. Don’t expect conventional singing. The music exploits a wide range of vocal techniques, including near-speech, exhalations and screeches – and silence. Where there is instrumental writing, it is very spare. The results are extremely atmospheric and beautiful, and at times mesmeric. The music is superbly performed. I had never come across this composer before, but I love these works.
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Peter Quantrill :
‘…beautifully produced disc… The first four of six a cappela Enigmas (2006-13) swell and throb around darkly mystical prophesies of Leonardo da Vinci while preserving line and sense. … Rough breathing and extended vocal techniques crumple and then shred Leonardo’s words into the ghosts and shadows that are the object of his disturbed contemplation. … The tests on performers are even stronger, the expression is weaker and more diffuse, in voices – still (2001), which layers a lovely fragment of Virgilian pastoral over a previously composed ensemble piece. Restless, glittering textures offer much passing diversion on their way to another abrupt but satisfying conclusion. Even so, Furrer’s mastery of timing emerges with a more instinctively felt sense of rightness from the initially loose-leaved pages of …cold and calm and moving (1992). …the notes hang in suspended animation with no special place to go, and no pressing need to go there. Quiet poise and patience are required both by listeners and by performers, and supplied by the Uusinta Ensemble. As well as conducting with a sure hand, Nils Schweckendiek has written useful booklet-notes.’ —Gramophone, November 2016
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