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.
The Augsburger Domsingknaben, or boy singers of Augsburg Cathedral, have a claim to be the perfect group to interpret the music of the south German composer Hans Leo Hassler, a student of Andrea Gabrieli whose music straddles the Renaissance and Baroque eras. The young choristers come from the same area where the music originated, and, like some of the English cathedral choirs, they have a history going back to the middle of the last millennium (although not quite so continuous).