The Swingle Singers - Bach Hits Back/A Cappella Amadeus

Published Friday 3rd September 2010
The Swingle Singers - Bach Hits Back/A Cappella Amadeus
The Swingle Singers - Bach Hits Back/A Cappella Amadeus

STYLE: Classical
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Virgin 724356147225

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

The Swingle Singers formed in Paris in 1962 by Ward Swingle have come a long way since their time as backing vocalists to such notable stars as Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour. Almost by accident they found that the instrumental music of Johann Sebastian Bach suited their scat singing style and several Baroque pieces were incorporated within their repertoire. 'Bach Hits Back' is sub-titled 'A New A Cappella Tribute' which warns us that there are other Swingle takes on the great man. This is a good place to start though and the eight vocalists (two for each part) take us on a wonderful 53 minute journey that includes obvious vocal choices ("Ein' Feste Burg") and unexpected instrumental delights. Who in their right minds would perform an a cappella version of "Air On A G String"? It should not work but, glory be, it does. If you enjoy any one of Bach, jazz music, or a cappella singing you will like this and if you like all three this will be a source of unending delight. And there's more. Following the initial success of 'Bach Hits Back' The Swingles turned to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and recorded 'A Cappella Amadeus: A Mozart Celebration'. We open with a stunning vocal arrangement of the overture to 'The Magic Flute' and head straight on to his 40th Symphony. There are some specifically vocal exerts too, notably from Mozart's Requiem plus a quick excursion into his operas. As with the Bach collection, 50-something minutes is far too short to do justice to the incredible versatility of the composer but as an introduction it serves a purpose and as an example of just how amazing unaccompanied singing can be this is indispensable. The original release dates were in the early 1990s and this double CD twofer came out in 1998 but is still available.

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