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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    


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Proprius
http://www.proprius.se

Det Korta Livet - The Short Life
Sven Erik BÄCK Våren
David WIKANDER Förvårskväll; Kung Liljekonvalje
Knut HÅKANSON Våhr-Wijsa
TRAD
Den blida vår
Oskar LINDBERG Pingst; Stjärntändning
Waldemar ÅHLÉN Sommarpsalm
Wilhelm STENHAMMAR I seraillets hæve
TRAD arr ALFVÉN Uti vår hage
C.J.L. ALMQVIST Varför kom du på ängen; Den lyssnande Maria
Fritz SJÖSTRÖM Söt blomma
Ingvar LIDHOLM Sommarafton; Troget och milt
Sven-Eric JOHANSON Det är vackrast när det skymmer; Nu är det sommarmorgon
Bjørn HJELMBORG Den lyse nat
Åke MALMFORS Månsken
Lars Johan WERLE Är gryningen redan här
Elisabeth HERMODSSON Sommardoft; Sommarkväll på ön
Knut HÅKANSON Brusala
Stefan FORSSÉN Som tysta ljud
Rilke Ensemble
rec. Jan, Nov 1988, May 1999, Lundby Nya Kirka, Göteborg DDD
SWEDISH SOCIETY DISCOFIL SCD 1112 [72.33]

Courtesy of the Proprius label I have been dipping extravagantly into Scandinavian choral music of the Twentieth Century. What is it that makes it distinctive, I wonder? This is a disc of fresh and tonal Swedish a capella choral music from the last century. There is about it not a shred of the airless indoors nor of Victorian fustian.

The present disc is by no means the anodyne pop anthology we have become used to from some quarters. Instead if you glance down the contents list you will see a long roll-call of ‘serious’ composers - some of them associated strongly with the avant-garde of the 1970s and 1980s. Bäck, Johanson (who elsewhere has a Proprius CD to himself), Lidholm and Werle are there. The velvet toned cumulo-nimbus of Kung Liljekonvalje contrasts with the gorgeous Delian sunset of Lindberg's Pingst, Lidholm's Troget och milt, Åhlén's Sommarpsalm and Sjöström's anguished white-hooted Bluebird of a piece. Lidholm, far from requiring modernistic somersaults touches on techniques required in Bax's Mater Ora Filium.

Traditional carols are represented by the light as down peck-noted Den Blida Vår arranged by Gunnar Eriksson. Johanson's plainchant-flavoured Nu är det sommarmorgon is like some magical distillation of the Allegri Miserere and Bax's I Heard a Piper - a treasure of world choral writing. We must hear more Johanson.

There is nothing here to trouble the modern-averse listener - certainly nothing wild or Ligetian. Equally there is not a shred of cathedral Englishry to weigh down the soul. This collection will appeal to anyone who enjoyed the recent Danacord anthology of Shakespeare choral settings, who dotes on Stanford's Bluebird but does not know where to go next or who has fond memories of the Swingle II RCA collection of English and French partsongs (BMG, Britten, RVW, Debussy, Poulenc).

All words are provided but no English translations of the texts. Background notes are supplied in both Swedish and English as is a profile of the sixteen strong Rilke Ensemble.

Rob Barnett



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