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Klaas TenHolt: Bovary Chante; Sonate

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About this title: Klaas Ten Holt's song cycle Bovary Chante is the work of a composer with a mastery of vocal writing and creating drama in music. The texts of the eight songs, by Carel Alpenhaar, are derived from Flaubert's novel and chronicle Emma Bovary's emotional descent toward suicide. Scored for string quartet, cimbalom, and soprano, the songs use deceptively simple, mostly tonal material, but Ten Holt deploys his forces with immense skill so that by the last two songs the tension is practically unbearable. He uses the cimbalom judiciously, and its wide range of colors and timbres subtly expands the expressive possibilities of the quartet, creating a sound quite unlike any other. Ten Holt's vocal writing is virtuosic, not because of disjunct leaps that characterize some modernist vocal lines, but because of its demand for the most lyrical bel canto delivery over an outrageously broad range. The closing notes of the cycles are stratospheric, but soprano Claron McFadden nails them with absolute assurance, perfect...

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