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Five Countertenors - 'Music Box', 16th March

Monday, 16 March 2015 , ora 9.37

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I present you an album internationally released on the very day of its broadcast on Radio Romania Music that is on 16th March, 2015, under the Decca label. The album is a very special one, for more than one reason: it comprises recordings done by five countertenors - I think this is the first time that a record label is presenting a recital combining five different countertenor voices - and one of them belongs to a Romanian: Valer Barna Săbăduș, nowadays known in the international musical world as Valer Sabadus. Besides, the album was recorded with the help of one of the best ensembles that uses original instruments nowadays, Armonia Atenea, conducted by George Petrou. So there are enough reasons to include this album in the Radio Romania Music campaign called 'Votează discul de muzică clasică al anului 2015.'.

There are five countertenors: Max Emanuel Cencic, Xavier Sabato, Valer Sabadus, Vince Yi and Yuri Minenko, each of them performing two arias. Five special timbres - as we all know, the countertenor voice is the male voice resembling the female one - and at the same time five extremely different ones, as you will notice.

Valer Săbăduș

On this album, Valer Săbăduș performs arias by Jommelli and Gluck. He is a young artist, only twenty nine years old, born in Arad, who moved to Germany in 1991, where he also studied - at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, to be more precise. At twenty three years of age, he debuted in his first major role, in a production conducted by Riccardo Mutti. After that there came performances on most of the important stages where 18th century music, characteristic of the countertenor repertoire, is being interpreted. Various important prizes mark the activity of this countertenor of Romanian descendent, among which we can mention an ECHO award won in 2012 and an ICMA award won in 2013.

Max Emanuel Cencic

The second performer on the Five Countertenors album is the Croatian Max Emanuel Cencic, known by the Romanian public thanks to his participation in the 'George Enescu' International Festival in 2013. Max Emanuel Cencic is considered to be one of the best contemporary countertenors worldwide. He is thirty eight years old and has basically been singing for all of his life: he was a member of the Vienna Childrens' Choir and then had a solo carrier as a male soprano between 1992 and 1997. Since 2001 he has been performing as a countertenor with remarkable success.

Xavier Sabata

The third countertenor is the Spaniard Xavier Sabata, who studied in his home country and in Germany. Xavier Sabata has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the interpretation of old music - from the 'Les Arts Florissants' ensemble, conducted by William Christie, to 'Europa Galante', the Venice Baroque Orchestra, and 'Al Ayre Espanol'. Important theatres in Europe and America have already had him as their guest.

Yuri Minenko

The fourth artist on this album is the Ukrainian Yuri Minenko, the first countertenor to ever reach the final of BBC's 'Singer of the World' competition in Cardiff. This happened in 2009. Yuri Minenko has a great voice, with a warm timbre, highlighted through arias composed by Johann Christian Bach and Georg Friedrich Händel.

Vince Yi

The highest-pitched voice of the five countertenors is that of the South Korean Vince Yi, who studied in the United States of America. As a matter of fact, it was also in the United States of America that Vince Yi became famous, due to performances held at the San Francisco Opera and the Carnegie Hall in New York. Europe also appears in his concert schedule - his performances in France and Germany have brought him appraisals of the most flattering kind.

Cristina Comandașu
Translated by Ana Cristina Dumitrache and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, The University of Bucharest