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Flemish Radio Choir

Director: Bo Holten

Flemish Radio Choir

Mixed Choral Chorus Belgium.

In the world of choral music the increasingly higher standards reached in recent years by a number of chamber-sized choirs has been a hugely encouraging development. With every intention and capacity to join such an elite group is Glossa's recent signing, the Vlaams Radio Koor from Belgium - the Flemish Radio Choir. Its 24 professional singers are now under the baton of chief conductor Bo Holten. Other leading international conductors also appear at the helm of the Flemish Radio Choir: eminent guest conductors such as Kaspars Putninsh, Laszlo Heltay, Paul Hillier and Herve Niquet enjoy working with the choir.

The choir's beginnings reach back to the years 1936/7 when it was brought into being at the behest of the national Belgian Radio, with the task of cooperating in every broadcast of the radio requiring a choir. This remained under the direction of conductors such as Leonce Gras, Jan Van Bouwel and Vic Nees until the Radio Orchestra and the Radio Choir became independent and actually separated from the broadcasting company in 1996. Since that time the choir has been a concert ensemble rather than being based in the studio, touring extensively not just in Belgium but also in France, Spain and The Netherlands.

Such is its success at home that it now acts as a catalyst for amateur choirs in the Flanders region in areas such as repertoire and performance. Additionally it is organizing projects which will be involving students from various Flemish music conservatories. The Choir gives particular attention to Flemish and contemporary music. Each season the choir also commissions works from a number of Flemish composers. Since the 2005-2006 season, the Flemish Radio Choir once again makes its home in the Flagey building (Brussels, Belgium).

Since joining Glossa the Flemish Radio Choir has embarked on a series of recordings demonstrating its new-found capacity of excellence in the choral music repertoire. A first disc comprised a challenging programme of music by Zoltan Kodaly. The Hungarian composer's Missa Brevis (and a selection of some of his lesser-known choral works) was conducted by Johan Duijck (a pupil of the naturalized Briton Laszlo Heltay, who had himself been a pupil of that moving spirit of Hungarian musical nationalism, Kodaly). For a second release the Choir turned its attention to another technically and interpretively demanding masterpiece in Sergei Rachmaninov's Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, asking one of its regular guest conductors, the Latvian-born Kaspars Putninsh, to direct. On taking up the post of Chief Conductor, the eminent Danish choral director and composer (and early music specialist) Bo Holten cemented his relationship with the Flemish Radio Choir in an expert reading of the Motets of Johann Sebastian Bach for Glossa.

Discography

Displaying 1-2 of 2 items.


Flemish Radio Choir : Robert Schumann - Choral Works : 00  1 CD : Bo Holten : Robert Schumann : 4033

Flemish Radio Choir : Robert Schumann - Choral Works

Review: Overshadowed by his orchestral, chamber, keyboard, and vocal music, the choral works of Robert Schumann are seriously neglected and have become a specialized interest for devotees of the genre. Yet some of his most charming music was written for choir, and in the hands of a really capable group, the music is as appealing as any of Schumann's most popular songs or miniatures. The Flemish Radio Choir, a small ensemble under the direction of Bo Holten, is one such group, and its beautifully blended voices lend these choral songs a purity and sweetness that are wholly appropriate for Schumann's poignant harmonies and lyrical settings of German poetry. Most of these songs are performed a cappella, which creates a rather light and airy effect in the resonant studio acoustics, though the numbers with piano accompaniment, played by Inge Spinette, are grouped at the end of the program, so the change of sound isn't unsettling. Because there are few recordings of Schumann's choral works, and even fewer performed with such eloquence and polish, this disc may present the best opportunity to hear this overlooked repertoire.

Songlist: An die Sterne, Ungewisses Licht, Zuversicht, Talismane, Der Konig von Thule, Schon-Rohtraut, Heidenroslein, Ungewitter, Der Traumende See, Die Minnesanger, Die Lotosblume, Am Bodensee, Gute Nacht, Tamburinschlagerin, Klosterfraulein, In der Nacht, Es ist verraten, Ich bin geliebt

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2906c | 00 1 CD | $16.95 | A Cappella


Flemish Radio Choir : Kodaly - Missa Brevis : 00 SACD : Bo Holten : Zoltan Kodaly : 922202

Flemish Radio Choir : Kodaly - Missa Brevis

Review: All the conductors who have worked with the Flemish Radio Choir, or VRK, have no hesitation in ranking it along side the other two great European chamber choirs, Accentus and the RIAS Kammerchor. Its technical confidence, expressive capacity and profound knowledge of the repertoires, as well as its enormous vision and originality in putting together its programs, are the key factors that have led to the inclusion of this elite group in Glossa's selection of artists. Composed during the Second World War (most of it at a Budapest monastery) and completed in 1944, Missa Brevis was first performed in 1945, just after the end of the war, at the Budapest Opera House (where Kodaly and his wife had been forced to seek refuge during the final days of the conflict). In fact, it was actually performed in the dressing rooms, these apparently being the only part of the building that had not been damaged by the constant air raids on the city. It is one of his most notable choral pieces and subliminally conveys the suffering and uncertainty of that endless time during which Kodaly risked his own life on more than one occasion. While all of this certainly helps to explain its powerful emotional and intensely dramatic qualities, more than anything else Missa Brevis is a hymn to hope, a musical poem of extraordinary transparency written in praise not only of the divinity that governs the destiny of humanity and nations but also, rooted as ever in the popular, of religious feeling, as manifested in believers for comfort and strength in the most difficult of circumstances.

Songlist: Introitus, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus, Ite Missa est, Psalm 121, Psalm 114, Jezus es a kufarok, Szekely Keserves (Piano solo), Szekely Keserves (Choir), The Musicmakers, Norveg Leanyok

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8860c | 00 SACD | $16.95


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