One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati







CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Fredrik PACIUS (1809-1891)
Hymn to Finland: Works for male-voice choir
Vårsång (På hoppets dag) (1844) [0:42]
Studentsång (1835) [1:49]
Sång för Nordiska ynglingar (1839) [0:58]
Det var då (1849) [2:44]
Philomele (1836) [1:59]
Den sjuttonåriga (quartet) (c. 1843) [1:33]
Förgät mig ej (octet) (1841) [1:12]
Till Jonas Perón (1843) [0:32]
Hör, I Orphei drängar. Fredmans Epistel Nr. 14 (octet) (arr. c. 1842) [1:32]
Blåsen nu alla. Fredmans Epistel Nr. 25 (octet) (arr. 1841 at the latest) [1:28]
Nå, ä’ nu alla församlade här? Fredmans Epistel Nr. 13 (arr. c.1842) [1:47]
Kreivin sylissä istunut (arr. 1835-1840) [1:47]
Folkvisa (Laulu kanteletta soittavalle tytölle) (quartet) (arr. 1835-1840) [0:30]
Turvaton (quartet) (arr. 1835-1840) [0:55]
Folkvisa (Rannalla itkijä) (quartet) (arr. 1835-1840) [1:14] (Velisurmaaja) (arr. 1835-1840) [1:45]
Fantasi över ett finskt tema (arr. c. 1841) [2:03]
Frühlingsglaube (1837) [1:25]
Ich bin nun einmal so (1842) [0:57]
Gespräche der Irrlichter (1843) [1:57]
Der Jäger auf der Kirchweih (octet) (1844) [1:12]
Wiegenlied (quartet) (at the latest 1842) [1:08]
Die Abendglocke auf dem Berge (quartet) (1843) [2:50]
Lied an die schöne Müllerin (1844) [3:30]
À la Mélancolie (1837) [2:45]
Rheinweinlied (1841) [0:27]
Schenkt ein! (1843) [1:05]
Trinklied (1843) [1:08]
Björneborgarnas marsch (arr. 1858) [3:33]
Suomis sang (1854) [2:30]
Finlands flagga (at the latest 1863) [5:20]
Hymn till Finland (1852) [1:20]
Vårt land (1848) [1:37]
Audio Quattro (vocal quartet); The 4Z (vocal quartet); Akademiska Sångföreningen/Henrik Wikström
rec. Järvenpää Hall, Finland, March 2008; Nya Paviljongen, Grankulla, Finland’ November 2008. Texts and translations provided
BIS-CD-1694 [60:30]


Experience Classicsonline

There can be few more thrilling sounds than unaccompanied male choruses in full flight. Happily there’s no shortage of suitable repertoire and, if the CDs I’ve reviewed in recent years are anything to go by, the standard of singing is remarkably high. The Kansas and Phoenix choirs in Grechaninov’s Passion Week (see review), Ensemble 96 in Immortal Nystedt (see review) and, most recently, the YL and Talla choruses in works by Einojuhani Rautavaara (see review) are good examples of this. The Grechaninov and Nystedt discs are especially memorable, one for its dark, old-Russian sound, the other for its clear, precisely projected modernity.

Those two composers are hardly household names, but then neither is Fredrik Pacius. Dubbed the ‘Father of Finnish music’ this German-born conductor/composer was fairly prolific, writing two symphonies, two operas and a number of other vocal works. His 1848 setting of Vårt land (Our Land) to words by Johan Ludvig Runeberg, was adopted as the Finnish national anthem. Appropriately enough the Akademiska Sångföreningen – founded by Pacius in 1838 – is at the heart of this new disc, singing in Swedish, Finnish, French and German. There are two smaller groups as well, 4Z and the punning Audio Quattro, who sing the quartets and octets. All are ably led by Henri Wikström, the main choir’s former pianist and, since 1997, its director.

The first tranche of songs is collected under the heading Pacius in Swedish, and includes an apple-cheeked Vårsång (Spring Song) and a suitably virile Studentsång (Student Song). The choir is always crisp and clear, with a focused, typically Nordic, sound. Listeners familiar with the Nystedt disc will certainly recognise the vocal style which, in Det var då (That was then), takes on a wonderfully wistful quality. And what a pleasant surprise to hear the liquid tones of Sharon Bezaly’s flute added to the mix in Philomele. In the first quartet 4Z make a splendid job of the lonely little number Den sjuttonåriga (A Girl of Seventeen); they are joined by Audio Quattro for the finely wrought Förgät mig ej (Forget Me Not).

Recording unaccompanied choruses presents special challenges, and I’m pleased to say the BIS engineers have come up with a clear, fresh recording that has just enough bass warmth to tether the higher voices. Two venues are listed and both seem to suit this music very well; in fact, the Järvenpää Hall was used for Ondine’s Rautavaara set, which also has a mellow but well-focused sound. As far as the music goes, Pacius is very easy on the ear, a welcome, Nordic breeze on a hot summer’s afternoon. That said, there’s a burst of erotic heat in the tipsy Till Jonas Perón (To Jonas Perón), delivered with real animation.

The second part of this disc consists of Pacius’s arrangements of songs by the Swedish poet and composer Carl Michael Bellman (1740-1795). These songs and epistles of Fredman have a strong folk-like element and seem rhythmically distinct from the settings we’ve heard thus far. Dynamically there is more variation as well, with the voices occasionally dividing to great effect. These bucolic – and alcoholic – celebrations are deftly despatched by the vocal octet and the main choir. It’s not hard to see why Bellman is considered a pivotal figure in the Nordic song tradition, such are the infectious rhythms and word pointing on display here.

By contrast Pacius’s arrangements of Finnish folk songs – from Kreivin sylissä istunut (Sitting in the Count’s Lap) to Fantasi över ett finskt tema (Fantasy on a Finnish Theme) – are a little less colourful than their Swedish counterparts. But what they might lack in this respect they certainly make up for in range of mood and rhythm; just sample the chilling tale of fratricide in Verinen poika (The Bloody Boy) and listen to 4Z in the nimble little Folkvisa (Laulu kanteletta soittavalle tytölle) (Song of the Girl Playing the Kantele) and the catchy, repeated phrases of Turvaton (Defenceless). In the latter settings 4Z prove they really are a most characterful group and I’d love to hear them in other repertoire.

In my Rautavaara review I grumbled about the somewhat ‘grey’ character of some of the settings. That’s not really an issue here, although I would suggest you dip into this collection rather than play it right through. The German and French settings, to texts by Uhland, Rückert, Müller and others, are more than enough for one sitting. Stylistically there’s little to distinguish these songs from what we’ve heard thus far, although the switch to German and French does subtly alter the shape of the choral sound. One could so easily imagine these texts in Schubert’s hands, especially the crisp rhythms of Der Jäger auf der Kirchweih (The Hunter at the Parish Fair) and the gentle Wiegenlied. Indeed, there is a maid of the mill setting here (Rückert, not Müller) where the movement of the water wheel – rather than the gurgle of the brook – is cleverly evoked in the rise and fall of the choral writing.

The final selection, entitled Patriotic Pacius, contains the tub-thumpers that give this disc its title. One can’t underestimate the strength of Nordic nationalism in the 19th century. Finland, part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917, has a long history of patriotic pieces, perhaps most famously represented by Sibelius’s Finlandia. For these pieces Pacius adopts a more heroic style, especially in the proud Björneborgarnas marsch (March of the Pori Regiment) and the ringing affirmation of Finlands flagga (Finland’s Flag). But it’s the eponymous Hymn till Finland, culled from Pacius’s 1852 opera Kung Karls jakt (The Hunt of King Charles), that’s the most stirring piece here. The choir sing with considerable swagger and end with thrilling cries of Farväl! (Farewell!). The disc rounds off with Finland’s national anthem; a solemn piece, it’s sung here with just the right mix of buoyancy and gravitas.

Simply put, a cappella male-voice singing doesn’t get much better than this, Once again BIS have combined a well-programmed selection of little-known works with a fine recording to produce a most welcome disc. Lovers of the genre need not hesitate.

Dan Morgan



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.