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Shall I Compare Thee? - Choral Songs / Chicago A Cappella


Release Date: 09/27/2005 
Label:  Cedille Records   Catalog #: 85   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Martha SullivanJaakko MäntyjärviMatthew HarrisJohn Rutter,   ... 
Performer:  Elizabeth GrizzellAmy ConnTrevor MItchell
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Choral music fans looking for something new, different, artfully sung, intelligently programmed, and expertly recorded should investigate this excellent recording without delay. Featuring several world premieres, the program consists primarily of works chosen from submissions to a competition Chicago a cappella held in 2002. Criteria included the texts--based on Shakespeare--and that the works must be new to Chicago audiences. A few composers wrote pieces specifically for the competition, and the disc opens with two of these: Kevin Olson's jazzy Summer Sonnet (which sounds like something out of the Manhattan Transfer catalog) and Martha Sullivan's edgy, bluesy, appropriately fitful, rhythmically unsettled setting of Blow, blow, thou winter Read more wind. From there we are treated to four settings by Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, distinguished by a clever but bold harmonic style that would make your traditional-theory teacher's hair stand on end. Lullaby ("You spotted snakes", from A Midsummer Night's Dream) and Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (from Macbeth) are unqualified masterpieces, the latter a stunningly effective evocation of scene and text that stands above all other vocal portrayals.


The four selections from Matthew Harris' Shakespeare Songs are more commonly performed, including the irritating and repetitive Who is Sylvia? and the lovely, gently flowing It was a Lover and his Lass, and John Rutter's jazzy setting of the same text is a frequent concert favorite. There's much more to enjoy on this program--Nils Lindberg's lushly scored Shall I compare?, and Juhani Komulainen's affecting--and rare--realization of the famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy, to name just two.


Chicago a cappella is a highly accomplished group of nine singers who show an obvious affinity for modern music. They really know how to swing the jazzy pieces and generally handle tricky harmonies with no trouble. There are, however, several moments during the program--particularly in the Mäntyjärvi and Harris sets--where soprano intonation is shaky, and while it's definitely noticeable it's neither prolonged nor overall ruinous to the pieces in question. The recording is very well balanced and conveys the natural ambience of a comfortable, intimate listening space. A delight!
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Blow, blow, thou winter wind by Martha Sullivan
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 2 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
2. Shakespeare Songs (4) by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Finland 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 11 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
3. Shakespeare Songs: It was a lover and his lass by Matthew Harris
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992; USA 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 3 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
4. Shakespeare Songs: Take, O, take those lips away by Matthew Harris
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990; USA 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 1 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
5. Shakespeare Songs: Who is Sylvia? by Matthew Harris
Performer:  Elizabeth Grizzell (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 1 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
6. Shakespeare Songs: And will a' not come again? by Matthew Harris
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 2 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
7. It was a lover and his lass by John Rutter
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; England 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 2 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
8. O Mistress Mine: Shall I compare thee by Nils Lindberg
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; Sweden 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 2 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
9. Shakespeare Songs (3): Madrigal by Hĺkan Parkman
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Sweden 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 1 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
10. Shakespeare Songs (3): Sonnet 147 by Hĺkan Parkman
Performer:  Amy Conn (Soprano)
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Sweden 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 3 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
11. Antique Pieces (3): no 1, Orpheus with his lute by György Orbán
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 2 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Version: 2000
Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005)
Composition written: Budapest, Hungary (1987).
Composition revised: Budapest, Hungary (2000). 
12. O, mistress mine, where are you roaming by György Orbán
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 1 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
13. Ballads of Shakespeare (4) by Juhani Komulainen
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 10 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
14. Spring "When daisies pied and violets blue" by Bob [pno duo] Applebaum
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 2000; USA 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 2 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
15. Witches' Blues "Thrice the brinded cat" by Bob [pno duo] Applebaum
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 2002; USA 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 4 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
16. Sonnet 18 "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day" by Bob [pno duo] Applebaum
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 2003; USA 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 
17. Summer Sonnet "Shall I compare thee" by Kevin Olson
Performer:  Trevor MItchell (Tenor)
Conductor:  Jonathan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago A Cappella
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 2002; USA 
Venue:  Northeastern Illinois University, Chicag 
Length: 4 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago (11/2004 - 03/2005) 

Sound Samples

Summer Sonnet
Blow, blow, thou winter wind
4 Shakespeare Songs: I. Come Away, Death
4 Shakespeare Songs: II. Lullaby
4 Shakespeare Songs: III. Double, Double, Toil and Trouble
4 Shakespeare Songs: IV. Full Fathom Five
Shakespeare Songs: It Was a Lover and his Lass
Shakespeare Songs: Take, O Take Those Lips Away
Shakespeare Songs: Who is Silvia?
Shakespeare Songs: And Will A'Not Come Again
It Was a Lover and his Lass
Shall I Compare?
3 Shakespeare Songs: I. Madrigal (Take, O Take Those Lips Away)
3 Shakespeare Songs: II. Sonnet 147 (My Love is as a fever)
Orpheus with his lute
O mistress mine!
4 Ballads of Shakespeare: I. To be, or not to be
4 Ballads of Shakespeare: II. O weary night
4 Ballads of Shakespeare: III. Three words
4 Ballads of Shakespeare: IV. Tomorrow and tomorrow
Spring
Witches' Blue
Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

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