In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Since the 1950s the Swedish Radio Choir has been one of the world's finest a cappella ensembles. It is also unique in its mastery of the entire choral repertoire in all its breadth and depth, from Bach and Palestrina, through the Romantics like Schumann and Brahms, to Strauss, Ligeti and other contemporary composers.
The choir was founded in 1925, but it was only in 1952 that the newly appointed Musical Director Eric Ericson set about moulding it into the flexible choral instrument that it still remains today. Ericson made the choir into an instrument capable of performing advanced choral repertoire that had been gathering dust until then - works by such composers as Richard Strauss and Max Reger as well as music of own day. Arthur Honegger came to Sweden and heard his own choral music sung for the first time the way he had imagined it. On returning home he began spreading the word about this choir that could sing practically anything.
The Eric Ericson sound became a legend. Many composers found in the Swedish Radio Choir the instrument they needed to give vent to their music. The circle around Ericson and his choir numbered composers such as Ingvar Lidholm, Sven-Erik Back and Lars Edlund, and they were soon joined by Gyorgy Ligeti and Krzysztof Penderecki. The works they wrote specifically for Ericson's choir count among the classics of the choral repertoire both in Sweden and internationally.
Eric Ericson finally resigned as Musical Director after more than thirty years' service, but he has been welcomed back many times as guest conductor and was appointed Conductor Emeritus in March 2007.
Each new Music Director since Ericson has impressed his individual stamp on the choir and brought it new colours and skills. Anders Öhrwall shared his specialist understanding of the music of the Baroque. Gustaf Sjokvist premiered works by Sven-David Sandstrom, Tomas Jennefelt and Hans Gefors. Tonu Kaljuste brought new repertoire from Eastern Europe including such composers as Arvo Part and Alfred Schnittke, while Stefan Parkman presented a series comprising all of Bach's major works. Today the choir is led by musical director Peter Dijkstra, winner of Eric Ericson Award a.o.t.
Ever since its first sensational tours to Berlin, Venice and elsewhere in the 1960s, the Swedish Radio Choir has carried on a rich and varied programme of international activities. It is regularly invited to participate in international festivals and concerts. Its work with Riccardo Muti and Claudio Abbado in the 1980s resulted in a series of acclaimed concerts and recordings.
In 2008 the choir was touring in Italy and Netherlands and Nordic Countries, took part in a festival in Rotterdam and The Hague, joined forces with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Valerij Gergiev and other important ensembles and conductors. This years programme will include tours in Italy, Belgium and Germany with maestro Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra among others.
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Songlist: Requiem Aeternam, Kyrie, Dies Irae, Tuba Mirum, Rex remedae, Recordare, Lacrimosa, Domine Jesu Christe, Hostias, Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei , Credo, Requiem Aeternam, Henryk Gorecki: Miserere
Review: The Swedish Radio Choir comprises 32 professional singers. Since Eric Ericson took over in the 1950s, it has become one of the world's most outstanding choirs - a universal tool of voices capable of delivering the sweetest a cappella tones or of performing an oratorio with enormous power and elasticity. The collective leaves room for each individual form of expression, creating a sound that is unique in the world of choral music. Being one of the world's foremost choirs entails collaborating with the very cream of choirmasters and musicians. On this recording they join with Swedish choirmaster marvel Ragnar Bohlin, leader of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus since 2007, and world-leading trombonist Christian Lindberg - featured here as both soloist and composer. Together they perform In Time of Pestilence, the evocative choral work by American composer and Pulitzer Prize winner Ned Rorem; Visions and Non Thoughts and Vid sista udden by Christian Lindberg for trombone, recitator and mixed choir; Fallandet by Thomas Jennefelt; Lighten mine eyes by Bo Hansson; and muo:aa:yiy::oum, Anders Hillborg's phonetic study in sound. This is the premiere recording on CD of these compositions by Lindberg, Jennefelt and Hansson.
Songlist: Adieu, Farewell Earth's Bliss, Rich Men, Trust not in Wealth, Beauty is But a Flower, Strength Stoops Unto the Grave, With With his Wantonness, Haste Therefore Each Degree, Visions and Non Thoughts, Fallandet, Vid Sista Udden, Lighten Mine Eyes, muocaaeyiywcoum
Review: This uniquely named work has moments of wondrous luminosity, particularly in its second and fourth movements. The second, which has a hypnotic slow lilt to it, even evokes the sensuality of the Poulenc Gloria (closing section), a most unlikely kinship. There are many inspiring moments and many memorable textures, and any worries the composer may have had about Western performers' response to this music would have been quickly dispelled by Tonu Kaljuste and the outstanding Swedish Radio Choir. Their technical assurance is so great that one can easily admire their powerful identification with the music, while Kaljuste clearly has a superb ear for texture, balancing convincingly Schnittke's often densely complex choral writing. The wordless Voices of Nature is a short relatively simple work for ten women's voices and vibraphone. Its coolness, however, makes a welcome foil to the intensity of the Concerto. Then follow three works by Estonian Arvo Part, and many listeners may experience some surprise at the cheerful, almost humorous nature of Dopo la Vittoria. The title means After the Victory, the text telling the story of how Ambrose, Bishop of Milan in the 4th century, composed the hymn Te Deum and sang it with St. Augustine when baptising him. It is a blithe work, with a wonderfully solemn 'Amen' just near the end, before the good-humoured music returns to round the work off.
Songlist: Concerto For Choir, Voice of Nature, Dopo La Vittoria, Bogorodiste Djevo, I Am The True Vine
Review: When composing for choir, Sven-David Sandstrom (1942 ) does not hold back in terms of expression or technical demands. This contributes toward a powerfully emotional tonal language, to which the Nordic sound of the Swedish Radio Choir is perfectly suited. Composer and choir have worked together for years and their close relationship is evident in the excellent performances heard here. Channel s usual superb multi-channel recording provides the perfect ambience to allow the music to speak.
Songlist: Lobet den Herrn, Ave Maria, Hear my prayer, O Lord, Est ist genug, A new song of love, Laudamus Te, Agnus Dei, Singet dem Herrn: I, Singet dem Herrn: II, Singet dem Herrn: III