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Twelve Days of Christmas: Sonia Wieder-Atherton

available at Amazon
Vita (Monteverdi / Scelsi),
S. Wieder-Atherton, S. Lancu,
M. Lejeune

(released on March 29, 2011)
Naïve V 5257 | 1h08
We have been following the work of cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton, rewarding for both her playing and her daring programming. After an absorbing 2009 release, Chants d'Est (a "journey of 24 hours" through Slavic music), she has combined the music of two Italian composers, Claudio Monteverdi and Giacinto Scelsi, from opposite ends of the history of tonal music. I have my doubts about Scelsi, although his music is at the very least perplexing and therefore fun to unravel. As expected of Wieder-Atherton, the approach is a personal one, with the title of Vita derived from her first thought about the program (about "Life and Fate"). In the program notes, she writes that the combination of Scelsi and Monteverdi was inspired by her feeling "that both of them explored the forces within human nature. Both in their own particular way attempted to reach out to what binds human beings to the cosmos, to the worlds beyond." Wieder-Atherton's impassioned performances of four Scelsi movements, from the "large fresco cycle" of Trilogy (sections from the "Three Ages of Man"), are interspersed with her arrangements of Monteverdi pieces (partial credit given also to experimental composer Franck Krawczyk, who helps Wieder-Atherton design her projects), mostly from the eighth book of the composer's madrigals, on warlike and amorous subjects (joined by two younger cellists, Sarah Lancu and Mattheiu Lejeune). Wieder-Atherton has imagined a narrative to accompany the selection of music, some story about a male character and a female character, Angel and Angioletta, who are actually the same person in different periods of history, followed throughout the three ages of life. One can ignore it completely and still enjoy this diverting and rewarding disc.

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