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Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Nielsen sung by the Danish National Choirs
Danish National Vocal Ensemble
Danish National Concert Choir/Michael Schønwandt
Danish National Girls Choir/Phillip Faber
Danish National Junior Choir
Danish National Children’s Choir/Suzanne Wendt
rec. Garrison Church (Garnisons Kirke), 18-20 June 2014, 7-8 May 2015, June 2015, 24 August 2015
DA CAPO 8.226112 [63.29]

Sheer bliss. This CD is a joy from beginning to end. Most non-Danes, like the present reviewer, come to Nielsen through hearing – and falling in love with - the symphonies. The songs – choral and otherwise – can seem peripheral to that central achievement. However, in the Danish context, the introduction to the music of Nielsen is perhaps more likely to come through exposure to the heritage offered by his choral music and songs.

Nielsen composed about three hundred songs. The present collection has a mixture of lesser known and very popular works from across the composer’s career. In 1924, he composed Der er et yndigt land (‘A fair and lovely land’) as an alternative national anthem. It is a lovely piece, with a beautiful and memorable melody that would be easy to sing. On this CD it appears twice, first sung by an adult choir of eighteen singers. This is the first track on the CD. It reappears as the final piece, this time sung by the fifty girls of the Danish National Girls Choir. The second appearance is slower than the first, but the different timbre of the girls’ voices makes no less powerful an impression.

Songs for children's choir are most appealing. The pieces tend to be short - the longest is Grøn er vårens hæk [2.53] – but each has an easy charm. Sample Barnets sang (Kom, i dag må alle synge) from 1905. Notice how well-prepared the singers are, but one senses also the enjoyment in a simple song about the joys of singing. Perhaps most instantly appealing of this group is Grøn er vårens hæk, a song about spring and its delights, finishing with a melancholy note about the sadness of going home alone.

Performances throughout are excellent. The variety offered by the different types of choir is part of the pleasure of the music, but even within choirs of similar type, there is considerable variety. Some pieces are for male voices alone, while Sidskensang (Du er, min tro, en underlig pog) is set for SSAT, with no bass line, and Kom, Gudsengel, stille død, from 1907, is for the unusual combination of ATB.

Michael Schønwandt’s credentials as a Nielsen conductor need no introduction – his recordings of the symphonies are well-known, and his recording of Maskarade [Dacapo 6220641-42] is outstanding. The other conductors featured on the CD do not pale in comparison – the affection and care shine through. Recording quality is excellent. Notes and texts are provided in English and Danish, though the translation of the notes is unidiomatic and often reads oddly.   This CD is an essential purchase, not only for lovers of Nielsen but for anyone who loves the sound of unaccompanied choirs.

Michael Wilkinson

Der er et yndigt land CNW 351 (1924) [1.50]
Hjemve (Underlige aftenlufte!) CNW 205 (1924) [3.58]
From To skolesange (1929):
Blomsterstøv fra blomsterberger CNW 343 [2.31]
Sidskensang (Du er,min tro, en underlig pog) CNW 348 (1906) [2.04]
Serenade (Gerne vi lytter, når strængene bringer) CNW 349 (1907) [3.05]
Jeg bærer med smil min byrde CNW 212(1924) [1.39]
Kom, Gudsengel, stille død CNW 350 (1907) [3.26]
From To skolesange (1929):
Nur er for stakket tid forbid CNW [1.38]
Det bødes der for i lange år CNW357 (1887) [2.48]
Påskeliljen (Påskeblomst! en dråbe stærk CNW 361 (1910) [2.47]
Barnets sang (Kom, i dag må alle synge) CNW 301 (1905) [1.53]
Grøn er vårens hæk CNW 268 [2.53]
Jeg ved en lærkerede CNW 262 (1924) [2.08]
Solen er så rød, mor CNW 263 (1924) [2.35]
Sangen til Danmark (Som en rejselysten flåde CNW 237 (1920) [4.53]
Arrangement of Kantate ved Aarhus Landsudstillings åbningshøjtidelighed, 1909 (1913):
Danmark, du kornblonde datter CNW 342 [3.40]
Skummende lå havet CNW 341 [1.14]
Fædrelandssang (Du danske mand! af al din magt) CNW 288 (1906) [2.18]
Til snapsen i “Bel Canto” (Endskønt jeg Ganske sikkert ved) CNW 360 (1909) [1.01]
Den danske sang er en ung, blond pige CNW 271 (1926/7) [2.46]
Nu sol i øst oprinder mild CNW 186 (1914) [1.50]
Jeg lægger mig så trygt til ro CNW 269 (1924) [1.49]
Hjemve (Underlige aftenlufte!) CNW 205 (1924) [3.51]
Der er et yndigt land CNW 351 (1924) [2.17]



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