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Shall I Compare Thee?
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Shall I Compare Thee?
Chicago a cappella
Cedille Records CDR 90000 085

On its new CD, the "world class" (Fanfare) nine-voice ensemble Chicago a cappella brings its trademark "wit, imagination, [and] flawless intonation" (Chicago Tribune) to 23 contemporary choral settings of Shakespeare texts - including ten recorded premieres and three works composed expressly for the group.

Making its Cedille Records debut, Chicago a cappella performs artful arrangements that draw from influences ranging from bossa nova and the blues to Renaissance and medieval modes. You'll hear a fascinating spectrum of styles within single works and across the entire program. This is one CD where (in the words of the Bard) "music and sweet poetry agree."

" . . . more fun than human beings should be allowed, the most addictive CD to come my way in a long time is Shall I Compare Thee? Choral Songs on Shakespeare on the Cedille label. Some of the pieces are familiar from previous Shakespeare compilations--Jaako Mantyjarvi's Four Shakespeare Songs, with its magnificent "Come away, come away, death;" a selection of Matthew Harris's Shakespeare's Songs from which you would never in a million years guess that he was a student of Carter and Babbitt; Nils Lindberg's Shall I Compare Thee? But, most of the material is new--to me, at least--and none of it has ever been sung this well on CD. The Chicago a capella is some kind of magic blend of the great old jazz group, the Hi-Los, with a little Double Six of Paris and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir thrown in. I challenge anyone who listens to the first cut--Summer Sonnet by Kevin Olson, a composer and pianist at Elmhurst College near Chicago--to stop humming it for a week."
Click here to download the CD booklet.

Click the Cedille Player at the upper left to hear excerpts from the tracks highlighted in red below. These have been carefully chosen as representative of the recording program.

PROGRAM (63:00)

1 Kevin Olson (b. 1970): Summer Sonnet (4:46)*

2 Martha Sullivan (b. 1964): Blow, blow, thou winter wind (2:37)*

Jaakko Mantyjarvi (b. 1963): Four Shakespeare Songs (11:53)
3 Come Away, Death (3:05)
4 Lullaby (3:23)
5 Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (2:57)
6 Full Fathom Five (2:17)

Matthew Harris (b. 1956): from Shakespeare Songs
7 It Was a Lover and his Lass (3:09)
8 Take, O Take Those Lips Away (1:35)
9 Who is Silvia? (1:21)
10 And Will A’Not Come Again? (2:39)*

11 John Rutter (b. 1945): It Was a Lover and his Lass (2:28)

12 Nils Lindberg (b. 1933): Shall I compare? (2:26)

Hakan Parkman (1955-1988): from Three Shakespeare Songs
13 Madrigal (Take, O Take Those Lips Away) (1:37)
14 Sonnet 147 (My love is as a fever) (3:03)

Gyorgy Orban (b. 1947)
15 Orpheus with his lute (2:20)
16 O mistress mine! (1:03)

Juhani Komulainen (b. 1953): Four Ballads of Shakespeare (10:00)*
17 To be, or not to be (3:01)*
18 O weary night (2:46)*
19 Three words (1:49)*
20 Tomorrow and tomorrow (2:14)*

Robert Applebaum (b. 1941)
21 Spring (2:51)*
22 Witches Blues (4:53)*
23 Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summers day? (3:13)*

*World Premiere Recording

Chicago a cappella
Amy Conn, soprano; Kathleen Dietz, soprano; Elizabeth Grizzell, mezzo; Susan Schober, mezzo; Harold Brock, tenor; Trevor Mitchell, tenor; Matthew Greenberg, baritone; Aaron Johnson, baritone; Jonathan Miller, bass & artistic direction

The participation of the artists in this recording was underwritten in part through the generosity of the Nora Bergman Fund.

Producer: James Ginsburg / Engineer: Bill Maylone / Session Director: Patrick Sinozich / Recorded: November 13, 2004; and January 14-16 and March 19, 2005 at Northeastern Illinois University / Graphic Design: Melanie Germond & Pete Goldlust / Front cover: Ask me no more, 1906 (oil on canvas) by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema © The Bridgeman Art Library