Ilker Arcayürek tenor, Ludwig Chamber Players
cpo 555 355-2
12 Variations on a theme from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus, Septet op. 20, Adelaide, An die ferne Geliebte
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This CD features a performance on modern instruments of Beethoven’s famous and seminal Septet in tandem with modern arrangements for instruments and tenor voice by Andreas N Tarkmann and M Ucki of the Beethoven songs ‘Adelaide’ and the extended ‘An die ferne Geliebte’, and an octet arrangement of Beethoven’s homage to Handel – a set of variations for cello and piano of ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes’ from his Judas Maccabaeus. The performance of the Septet is delightfully detailed, while the modern arrangements for chamber ensemble use the Septet as their model, and make very effective use of the available combinations of wind and stringed instruments. It is easy forget how ground-breaking and influential Beethoven’s Septet was when it first appeared in 1800, directly inspiring Schubert’s (in my opinion far superior) Octet and much of the larger-scale chamber music of the Romantic period. My favourite track on the CD is the Tarkmann arrangement of ‘An die ferne Geliebte’, possibly because it was the strongest composition to start with, but also I think because of the way the imaginative octet instrumentation enhances the original. Iker Arcayürek is a thoughtful and highly expressive solo tenor, who responds positively to being accompanied by a chamber ensemble rather than the customary piano. My one reservation is that in allocating the original piano part, the arrangements feel free to make demands on the modern instruments (particularly the clarinet) which would simply have been beyond the scope of the instruments of the period. Playing modern instruments, The Ludwig Players make light of this, but these remain obviously modern arrangements for modern instruments.
D. James Ross