Of all the nearly forgotten music by Mendelssohn, the most nearly completely forgotten is his music for chorus. Only his songs come close to being as almost entirely ignored, but because a few of them have earned a place in the recital hall, even they have a more prominent place in the repertoire. This 10-disc Brilliant set of Mendelssohn's complete choral works featuring the Chamber Choir of Europe under Nicol Matt addresses this problem even though it may not solve it. The performances are uniformly excellent. The Choir has a smooth tone and superb diction and Matt elicits from them polished balanced and ardent interpretations.
This re-issue of early Medieval vocal music from Finland includes a unique reconstruction of 14th and 15th century Gregorian music that was performed in Finland in the memory of St. Henry, Finland’s Patron Saint. Liturgical literature dealing with St. Henry is abundant and the music in this collection consists of extracts from masses and offices to St. Henry. Liturgical legend and oral tradition provide a colorful account of the English clergyman’s mission to Finland where he was killed on January 20th, 1156.
The Helsinki Chamber Choir (Helsingin kamarikuoro) was founded in 1962 as the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir and assumed its current name in 2005. It is currently Finland’s only professional chamber choir. The choir’s Artistic Director from 2005–2007 was Kimmo Hakola. Since 2007 Nils Schweckendiek has been responsible for the group's artistic planning.
One of the most important missions of the work of the 441 Hz Chamber Choir is performing and promoting contemporary choral music. On a daily basis, the ensemble, under the direction of Anna Wilczewska, carries out a busy concert schedule, performing mainly contemporary music repertoire. This album is a presentation of contemporary choral music originating from countries of the North, mainly from Scandinavia. The album is filled with the diversity of creative inspiration, free references to the folklore, customs and savage northern nature, and originality of the compositional techniques. All this contributes to a broad musical panorama constructed from the works of eleven composers, which, despite this fact, constitutes a coherent, homogeneous whole, which is brilliantly performed by the ensemble.
Some of Janacek's most characteristic invention is to be found in the many choruses he wrote for local choirs who were moved by both a love of singing together and a demonstration of their national identity. There is a good selection here. Even the earliest, a touching little lament for a duck, has a quirkiness which saves it from sentimentality; the latest, the Nursery Rhymes, are marvellous little inventions from the dazzling evening of Janacek's life. One must resist any temptation to say that they take Stravinsky on at his own game: Janacek is his own man. In between comes a varied diet here. Schoolmaster Halfar (or Cantor Halfar) is set with a dazzling range of little musical ironies as the story unfolds of the teacher who ruined his life by insisting on speaking Czech. The Elegy on the death of his daughter Olga goes some way toward dignifying a conventional text with some heartfelt music, but the pressure of grief has not drawn the greatest of his music from him: perhaps more time was needed, and indeed the piano pieces he entitled Along an Overgrown Path re-enter ancient griefs more expressively.