Bruno Maderna, Vol. XV;  The Swingle Singers       (St Laurent Studio YSL T-469)
Item# C1532
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Bruno Maderna, Vol. XV;  The Swingle Singers       (St Laurent Studio YSL T-469)
C1532. BRUNO MADERNA Cond. RTF S.O: Jeux (Debussy); Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta (Bartok); w. The Swingle Singers: Sinfonia (Berio). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-469, Live Performances, 1968-70, Casino municipal, Royan. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.


“A French vocal group famed for tackling all manner of classical material (Baroque, fugues, madrigals, orchestral overtures) and switching them to an a cappella swing setting, the Swingle Singers was formed in Paris during the early '60s by American expatriate Ward Swingle. By the time of their 1963 album debut, the group comprised eight voices - Swingle, Christiane Legrand (sister of Michel), Jean-Claude Briodin, Anne Germain, Claude Germaine, Jean Cussac, Claudine Meunier and Jeanette Baucomont. That album, ‘Jazz Sebastian Bach’ (titled ‘Bach's Greatest Hits in America’), earned the group a Grammy award and almost made the Top Ten. The novelty inherent in an eight-voice scatting choir resulted in dozens of television and radio appearances around the world during the mid-'60s. Somehow, the group also managed to record follow-up LPs Going Baroque in 1964 and ‘Anyone for Mozart?’ one year later. Both were Grammy winners as well - though Best Performance by a Chorus definitely wasn't the most competitive category at the awards ceremony. In an era when vocal choruses increasingly slipped down the ‘easy listening’ slope, however, the Swingle Singers moved in precisely the opposite direction. In 1969, a subsidiary group called ‘Swingles II’ premiered ‘Sinfonia’ [above], a composition by the avant-garde composer Luciano Berio that also utilized the New York Philharmonic.

After a move to England in 1973, Ward Swingle recruited a new Swingle Singers and changed musical direction, incorporating material from the avant-garde as well as the Renaissance era and jazz. Swingle himself retired from active performance in 1984, but continued on as music director. The group continued to tour the world into the '90s, performing operas by Azio Corghi and Berio, appearing in compositions with ballet companies, and holding various classes and workshops as well.”

- John Bush,

“Maderna was a musician who couldn't write or conduct a note without wanting to communicate something essential, and essentially human. He is arguably the most underrated figure of the avant-garde; Maderna's music breathes an expressive freedom that makes it, I think, immediately compelling. His commitment to the modernist cause is unassailable. As well as Maderna's own music, there are a handful of recordings you need to hear. There's a white-hot Mahler 9th with the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1971 - one of the most incandescent interpretations I've ever heard, and a thrilling LE MARTEAU SAN MAÎTRE on YouTube; on CD and download, you can find Maderna's Schönberg, Webern, Malipiero, Stravinsky, and even Mozart as well. The most eloquent revelation of how much Maderna meant to the whole generation of post-war composers is the music they wrote in his memory: Boulez's RITUEL IN MEMORIAM BRUNO MADERNA and Berio's CALMO. But the best tribute to Bruno you can give him is to listen to his own music. Enjoy.”

- Tom Service, THE GUARDIAN, 13 Nov., 2013

“Italian composer and conductor Bruno Maderna was one of the preeminent figures in contemporary European music in the mid-twentieth century. By the age of 20 Bruno Maderna had already earned his degree in composition from the Conservatory of Rome and returned to Venice to continue under composer Gian Francesco Malipiero.

In 1948 Maderna took a conducting class with legendary maestro Hermann Scherchen and probably through him got to know Wolfgang Steinecke, the founder of the Darmstadt Festival. Maderna had already met composer Luigi Nono at Ricordi, and would meet Luciano Berio in Milan after leaving the Venice Conservatory in 1952. Steinecke engaged Maderna as a conductor at the Darmstadt Festival, a post that made Maderna a celebrity in postwar European avant-garde and one that he would hold until the end of his days.

As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, Bruno Maderna's work as a composer began to take a back seat to his activity as a conductor. He was named principal guest conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, appeared frequently with the Juilliard Ensemble, and was musical director for two years at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood. He also spent a great deal of time in the recording studio and produced many fine albums of contemporary music, although in concert Maderna was equally well known for conducting the symphonies of Mahler and other well-worn repertoire of the Viennese classics. Perhaps this had some effect on Maderna's personality as a composer, as well, for by the end of his life he'd turned his back on the serial aesthetic espoused by the Darmstadt Festival and his colleague Pierre Boulez.

When the end came for Maderna at age 53, it did so swiftly - he was diagnosed with lung cancer during the rehearsals for his SATYRICON, which premiered in March 1973, and was dead by that November. His celebrity in America was so short-lived that by 2004 Maderna's name was largely forgotten there, but not so in Europe, where he is yet regarded as one of the giants of postwar modernism.”

- Uncle Dave Lewis,