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Jan LUNDGREN (b. 1966)
Magnum Mysterium

Anonymous, arr. Jan LUNDGREN (b. 1966)
Vinea Mea [3:34]
Orlando LASSO (1532-1594), arr. Magnus LINDEN
Prophetiae Sibyllarum [4.25]
Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643), arr. Jan LUNDGREN (b. 1966)
Sel Nel Partir Da Voi [4.31]
King John IV of Portual (1603-1656), arr. Jan LUNDGREN (b. 1966)
Crux Fidelis [5.51]
Franchino GAFFURIO (1451-1522), arr. Jan LUNDGREN (b. 1966)
Kyrie (from Missa De Carneval) [5.18]
Tomas Luis de VITTORIA (1548-1611), arr. Jan LUNDGREN (b. 1966)
O Quam Gloriosum [5.55]
Anonymous, arr. Jan LUNDGREN (b. 1966)
Da Pacem, Domine (from Graduale Romanum) [3.01]
Christobal de MORALES (1500–1553), arr. Jan LUNDGREN (b. 1966)
Pastores dicite, quidnam vidistis [3.56]
Andrea GABRIELI (1532-1585), arr. Jan LUNDGREN (b. 1966)
Maria Magdalene Et Altera Maria [5.26]
William BYRD (1534-1623), arr. Jan LUNDGREN (b. 1966)
O Magnum Mysterium [5.43]
Felice ANERIO (1560-1630), arr. Jan LUNDGREN (b. 1966)
Angelus Autem Domini Descendit [5.31]
Jan Lundgren (grand piano, keyboards)
Lars Danielsson (bass, cello)
Gustaf Sjökvist Chamber Choir/Gustaf Sjökvist
rec. 19-22 May 2007, Storkyrkan, Stockholm
ACT 9457-2 [53.34]


You get few clues about the nature of this disc from its slip-case, though there are hints. Every one of the tracks - most of which are well known renaissance motets with some plainchant - are credited as being arranged by Jan Lundgren or Magnus Linden. The performers include not only the Gustaf Sjökvist Chamber Choir, but Jan Lundgren (grand piano, keyboards) and Lars Danielsson (bass, cello), so this is obviously not an ordinary choral recital.

If the name Jan Lundgren means anything to you then you will have an inkling about the disc. Lundgren is a Swedish pianist who trained initially in the classical tradition, discovered jazz in his early 20s and studied at the Royal College of Music in Malmö. He released his first album in 1994 and has gone from strength to strength on the Swedish and International Jazz scenes. He seems to be constantly attempting to extend jazz in a variety of new directions.

His previous album Mare Nostrum was made with Sicilian trumpeter Paolo Fresu and accordion virtuoso Richard Galliano. It included re-workings of material by Charles Trenet, Maurice Ravel and Tom Jobim alongside Swedish folksongs.  This new disc, Magnum Mysterium was recorded in Storkyrkan (Stockholm’s cathedral), with a highly respected Swedish chamber choir.

This is one of a number of discs which seem to want to build on the Hilliard Ensemble’s disc Officium made with jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek. For that disc the Hilliard sang a selection of motets by composers from an older generation than on this disc, and Garbarek improvised an extra voice line.

Lundgren takes a slightly different route on this disc.  His piano playing sometimes accompanies the choral music but for much of the time it intercuts providing preludes, interludes and postludes to the renaissance pieces. The choral music seems to be sung relatively straight, but by encompassing it with his piano Lundgren forces us to listen to it with his ears.

The results are slightly curious. At times Lundgren accompanies, adding a rather uneasy piano riff to music which would stand well on its own. At other times, when playing on his own Lundgren introduces harmonies reminiscent of the source piece into his piano playing. The results sound a little alien, as if Mozart had wandered in to jam with Miles Davies.

And that is the biggest problem here; whereas Garbarek and the Hilliard manage to create fascinating syntheses, Lundgren and his choir seem only to reach an uneasy co-existence. Only occasionally do things gel and you get a track, like the Kyrie from Franchino Gaffurio’s Missa De Carneval

This is a disc which seems to fit in no single category. It will probably sound a little too constrained for jazz enthusiasts and makes too free with the source material for classical folk. 

Robert Hugill




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