COMPOSERS: Jeppesen,Lutz,Mäntyjärvi,Martin,Nils Lindberg,Sven-Eric Johanson,Vaughan Williams
WORKS: Works by Vaughan Williams, Lutz, Martin, Nils Lindberg, Jeppesen, Mäntyjärvi & Sven-Eric Johanson
PERFORMER: Aarhus Academic Choir/Uffe Most; Signe Buch Sørensen (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: DACOCD 607
Tell me, where is Fancy bred? Well, if this disc is anything to go by, not in the heart or in the head of many Nordic composers when faced with the challenge of setting Shakespeare. The Academic Choir of Aarhus (40 young singers from the University and Royal Academy of Music there) does its rather earnest but monochrome best in response to the differing responses of Danish, Swedish and Finnish composers, as well as to settings by Vaughan Williams and Frank Martin. But the muse remains distant.
The Swedish jazz musician Nils Lindberg offers surprisingly unadventurous settings of three songs, including ‘O mistress mine’, evoking an only generalised melancholy. Sven-Eric Johanson, a choral composer from Gothenburg, contributes nine delicate, whimsical Fancies, with piano accompaniment. Knud Jeppesen, first music professor at Aarhus, at least captures the numb and heavy tread of the wintry monosyllables of ‘When icicles hang by the wall’.
But the first truly imaginative response comes from the 39-year-old Finn, Jaako Mäntyjärvi. For ‘Come away, death’ and ‘You spotted snakes’, he shows real sensitivity to the variegated metre, inflection and colours of Shakespeare’s words in his placing of vocal registers and in a sombre, spare harmonic palette. Hilary Finch