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Taking the CD’s title from Ravel’s little gem Trois beaux oiseaux du paradis, the Octopus Chamber Choir under its founder/director present an interesting, bird-related programme of unaccompanied choral music. Composers include Harvey, Berg, Schmitt, Mendelssohn, Vaughan Williams, Schumann, Stanford, Humperdinck and Hindemith. Clytus Gottwald has arranged Berg’s Die Nachtigall for 16 voices, exploiting the extensive range of the singers. It works very well; but less successful is his 10-part arrangement of ‘Mondnacht’ from Schumann’s Liederkreis, in which he splits the melody between the vocal lines – something as perfect as this should be leftwell alone. Octopus is a very accomplished choir with a skilful technique. Unfortunately the sopranos often dominate the overall texture, while the basses dwindle away to a distant rumble. There is also little variety in the interpretation of the music.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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