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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Nils LINDBERG
The sky, the flower and a lark

Vi ska ställa te’ en roliger dans
Om sommaren Sköna
Näckens polska
Allt under Himmelsns fäste
En gång I bredd med mig
Kristallen den fina
Domaredansen
As you are
A love supreme
Marits visa
Lärkan
Sommaren
Ett vårstycke
Men når hon vilar
Skyn, blomman och en lärka
Vocalise
Handkarta
Höga visan

Gustaf Sjökvist Chamber Choir
rec. 1, 5 July 1999, Järna Kyrk, Dala Järna; live concert 3 Dec 1999, 28 Sept 2001, Storkyrkan, Stockholm. DDD
PROPRIUS PRCD 2011 [69.50]

 

Nils Lindberg trails through his musical output a number of influences and voices. Initial ambitions to write epic symphonic works faded when the jazz world discovered his skills as a pianist. He made a succession of jazz recordings in the 1950s and tours and concerts continued for many years. A visit to Spain in 1990 led to a ‘Damascus Road’ experience in which the richness to be explored in writing for choirs was revealed to him. He wrote a large scale Requiem in 1999. This choral attraction is married with his Dalarna folk heritage. It was natural for him to set the folksongs of his homeland.

The first seven tracks of this disc are freshly imagined arrangements of Dalarna folksongs previously set by Hugo Alfvén. His predilection is for a sweet white sound delivered in radiance and innocence by the Sjökvist choir. The music has all the innocence of a Finzi, Rutter and Vaughan Williams partsong but sung in a boyish distanced way like Swingle II singing classical but without the pop balance. After the songs comes As You Are prefaced by a jazz band accompanied cool saxophone solo. Then in swings the choir singing in sweetly close harmony. A Love Supreme takes similar curves but without the instrumental solos and with the choir adding in whispered spoken words. The delightful lightness of this singing continues through the remaining tracks. The most striking of which is the smilingly jazzy Vocalise in which the choir play orchestra to the tandem solos of the wordless singing of Margareta Jalkeus and the saxophone of Anders Paulsson. This is a deeply attractive piece. In the UK it might raise the odd memory of the Mike Sammes Singers and Sing Something Simple but banish these mundane thoughts in favour of such attractive music.

The disc closes with the Höga Visan (The Song of Songs) setting words from the Bible. The saxophone returns with a small jazz ensemble including double bass and the composer playing piano. The choir sing four sequences from The Song of Songs. The saxophone takes the role of the exalted singer delighting in cool virtuosity (try tr.18 where the sax shadows the choir). The composer adds some real depth in his far from anodyne and surprisingly dissonance strewn solo at 10.01.

Choirs looking to kick over the traces yet wanting something eminently singable should seek out this CD without delay.

Sweet music, suavely expressed. Not bland. Eminently attractive. Superbly recorded.

Rob Barnett

 



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