Angel Dances

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Slip a CD from the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic into your player, and it's easy to forget that you're listening to just a cello section. In fact, the players produce such a rich body of sound on Angel Dances that they rarely seem to be less than a full string orchestra, and more than once they trick you into thinking you're hearing other instruments entirely: the mirage of a pipe organ, for example, which hovers in the distance toward the end of Giacomo Carissimi's "Plorate." Since there's not a large repertoire for cello ensemble, the group's offerings consist mostly of arrangements -- that Carissimi selection, where members of the Berlin Radio Chorus join ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Slip a CD from the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic into your player, and it's easy to forget that you're listening to just a cello section. In fact, the players produce such a rich body of sound on Angel Dances that they rarely seem to be less than a full string orchestra, and more than once they trick you into thinking you're hearing other instruments entirely: the mirage of a pipe organ, for example, which hovers in the distance toward the end of Giacomo Carissimi's "Plorate." Since there's not a large repertoire for cello ensemble, the group's offerings consist mostly of arrangements -- that Carissimi selection, where members of the Berlin Radio Chorus join in, as well as works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Verdi, Debussy, and others -- as well as new commissions, such as Markus Stockhausen's Miniatur (einer Seelenreise), where the composer contributes his own trumpet to the mix. Add in the Astor Piazzolla tangos that give the album its title, the gospel-based "Let Us Praise Him" (featuring the powerful vocals of Jocelyn B. Smith), and the quietly insistent meditations of Arvo Pärt's Fratres, and you have an unusually wide-ranging program. If religion or spirituality is a thread running through these works, don't look for stereotypes of sacred music, but open your ears to unforeseen connections, like the audible link from Debussy's evocation of a medieval church style in "The Sunken Cathedral" to Pärt's very similar intent in Fratres. The cello is often considered the instrument closest in tone to the human voice, and the BPO musicians prove the truth of that assessment on several tracks -- especially in their delicate singing of two pieces from Mendelssohn's Elijah -- but more than that, they prove that this ensemble has found a distinct, uniquely expressive voice of its own.
All Music Guide - James Manheim
The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic are one of continental Europe's most successful crossover ensembles and one of Germany's few exemplars of what has been called post-classical music it's a poor term, probably derived from the equally poor "postmodern" -- music that draws on materials from the classical tradition but incorporates popular and world influences in a synthesis freely shaped by individual performers. Here the cellists draw on an international fascination with angels that shows no sign of abating, and the program offers a suitably diverse set of perspectives on angelic themes. The Angel trilogy of Argentine tango-fusion composer Astor Piazzolla -- "La muerte del Ángel," "Milonga del Ángel," and "La resurreción del Ángel" -- must have seemed an irresistible choice, not only because of the theme but also because the cello can take on such a strong rhythmic element. The Piazzolla pieces don't work so well in this context; the tango rhythms are vigorous, but the upper voices, those originally intoned by Piazzolla's piercing bandoneón, are somewhat submerged. After this, however, there are several distinct highlights. Two come with the assistance of the unique African-American-German vocalist Jocelyn B. Smith the cover might have been a good deal less cheesy if she had been pictured rather than a generic angel. The combination of massed cellos African-American gospel singing in Volker Schlott's "Let Us Praise Him" inspired, believe it or not, by The Blues Brothers is something new under the sun. The program includes an Arvo Pärt work, "Fratres," originally written for the 12 Cellists, who have every bit of the organic sound and lush sheen that is advertised. They deliver huge sweep of sonic development in Debussy's "La cathédrale engloutie," expertly building the layers of that sunken cathedral and encountering none of the problems apparent in the Piazzolla when its upper spires begin to sparkle. The gorgeous arrangements of Verdi's "Ave Maria" and of two passages from Mendelssohn's "Elijah" toward the end could find a place on any mix of meditative music. For some, the primary attraction of the album will be the concluding work, "Miniatur einer Seelenreise" Miniature of a Soul's Journey by Markus Stockhausen, son of Karlheinz -- it might be called surprisingly accessible considering its grandparentage. The album as a whole is quite a journey in itself and is likely to satisfy fans of this unusual group. As usual with the 12 Cellists, this album is beautifully recorded, with impressive dynamic range -- if you're listening to it while driving, keep your eyes on the road during the frequent volume knob adjustments.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/18/2006
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • UPC: 094635703023
  • Catalog Number: 57030
  • Sales rank: 203,297

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 La Muerte del ángel, tango (from Ángel series) - Astor Piazzolla & 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic (3:43)
  2. 2 Milonga del ángel, tango (from Ángel series) - Astor Piazzolla & 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic (5:56)
  3. 3 Resurrección del ángel, tango (from Ángel series) - Astor Piazzolla & 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic (7:42)
  4. 4 Let Us Praise Him, song - 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic & Volker Schlott (3:05)
  5. 5 Plorate, for chorus & cello ensemble (after Carissimi) - Stephen Johns & 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic (5:24)
  6. 6 La cathédrale engloutie, prelude for piano, L. 117/10 - Claude Debussy & 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic (6:05)
  7. 7 Fratres, for strings & percussion - Arvo Pärt & 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic (9:46)
  8. 8 A Solis Ortus Cardine, song - 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic & Volker Schlott (5:16)
  9. 9 Ave Maria, for voice & strings (or piano) - Giuseppe Verdi & 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic (5:36)
  10. 10 Cantata No. 147, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben," BWV 147 (BC A174): Jesus bleibet meine Freude - Johann Sebastian Bach & 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic (3:27)
  11. 11 Elijah (Elias), oratorio, Op. 70: Trio and Double Quartet - Felix Mendelssohn & 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic (5:04)
  12. 12 Miniatur (einer Seelenreise), for trumpet, flugelhorn & cello ensemble - Markus Stockhausen & 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic (12:50)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Primary Artist
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