ALBUM TITLE: Femina Moderna
WORKS: Works by Larsen, Klockar, Tarrodi, Auerbach, Cederberg-Orreteg, McDowall, Monnakgotla, Forte, Grigorjeva, Lofberg, Rehnqvist, Rosenberg and Lindsjo
PERFORMER: Allmänna Sången/Maria Goundorina
CATALOGUE NO: BIS-2224
Founded in 1830, Uppsala’s Allmänna Sången admitted female singers in 1963. Fifty years later, under director Maria Goundorina, it launched a competition for new music by women composers. Two prizewinning entries, Anna-Karin Klockar’s Speeches and Maria Löfberg’s Sandskrift, are included in this recording of works by 13 living composers, opening with Libby Larsen’s Songs of Youth and Pleasure (1986), a set of four madrigals with much fa-la-la-ing and intermittent flushes of post-Romantic dew.
The choir’s sound is fresh and direct. Its ensemble is tight and its diction crisp. But you’d struggle to describe much of this music as modern, and the wit, grit and sensuality of recent works by Kate Honey and Freya Waley-Cohen is absent. There are too many rag-rolled cluster chords, and too much cod-Renaissance frippery, but the same can be said of many recent choral works by male composers. Speeches (2015) has strong ideas and a terrific text but the energy dissipates in the second and third sections. Karin Rehnqvist’s Tilt (1985) and Susanna Rosenberg’s Pust (1998) have more snap and bite, Lera Auerbach’s Lullaby (2002) is cool and tender, while Tebogo Monnakgotla’s Apelsinen har mognat (2000) teases playfully at sprechstimme.