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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Part-Songs for Male Voices:-
Jaedervise (Western Wind)
Min dejligste Tanke (My sweetest thought)
Aftenstemning (Evening Mood)
Björneskytten (The Bear Hunt)
I Himmelen (In Heaven)
Impromptu
Album for Male Chorus, op.30 (12 tracks)
Den sildige Rose (The Lonely Rose)
Inga Litamor
Til Ole bull (To Ole Bull)
Valgsang (Voting Song)

Die Singphoniker
Recorded Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, January – June 2001
CLASSIC PRODUCTION OSNABRÜCK (CPO) 999 835-2 [59:03] Midprice


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"From all the tones,

Regards are sent by Björnsen and by Grieg.

Give it wings, let it go!

Norwegian music! Norwegian music!"

 

So ends Impromptu, track 6 of this delightful and unusual disc. Singphoniker are new to me, but I have immediately become a firm fan! There are five voices – two tenors, a baritone, a bass baritone and a bass, and, even to those of us brought up on the Kings Singers and Swingle 2, they sing with astonishing ensemble and perfection of tuning.

The composer is Grieg here, and it is great to see that he is beginning to receive full recognition now for his genius. While he used to be a ‘two-work-wonder’, with his reputation based more or less entirely on the Piano Concerto and the Peer Gynt music, almost every month there seem to be new issues exploring the lengths and depths of his output. These part-songs for male voices are quite wonderful pieces, hovering stylistically somewhere between Schubert and barber-shop, and if that sounds like curry-flavoured ice-cream, I assure you it’s much, much nicer than that! There is humour, romance, and above all, a wonderful sense of narrative, which Singphoniker bring to life superbly and, apparently, without effort. Melody was one of Grieg’s strong points, as was harmony, and the singers impeccable intonation allows the scrumptious chromatic harmonies to be experienced at their most expressive. Listen to the tonal side-slips of track 3, Evening Mood – it’s music to make you shiver with pleasure, and so perfectly done here.

Some of the songs are individual compositions, but the disc also includes the complete Album for Male Chorus, op. 30, which has twelve individual songs of great beauty. The two Hallings ('Halling' being a Norwegian dance) are wordless, and sung to nonsense syllables, bringing welcome contrast. Possibly my favourite of all was the Children’s Song on track 8, with its miaowing cat and drum sounds.

The recording is ideal – close but not up their noses, while the booklet is informative, and includes all the texts with translations laid out in such a way to make them easily referred to. Thank-you to CPO for an imaginative and highly entertaining issue, with music-making of the highest quality.

Gwyn Parry-Jones


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