Schultz, Jersild, N¿rholm & Nielsen

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COMPOSERS: Jersild,Nørholm & Nielsen,Schultz
LABELS: Danacord
ALBUM TITLE: 20th-Century Danish Choral Music
WORKS: Works by Schultz, Jersild, Nørholm & Nielsen
PERFORMER: Aarhus Academic Choir/Uffe Most
The Aarhus Academic Choir has some notable discs of the choral music of Vagn Holmboe to its name. For most of us, that’s hardly familiar repertoire, but the works on this new CD – Nielsen apart – are even more obscure. One is conscious of eavesdropping on a much-loved national tradition of choral composition that, through no fault of its own, has failed to travel. Svend S Schultz and Jørgen Jersild were mere names to me; Ib Nørholm has only slightly more profile. The parallel, I think, would be for a non-British listener to discover a collection of partsongs by Rubbra and Finzi and Mathias, with a bit of Vaughan Williams to add a point of reference from an earlier generation. It’s a beautiful disc. Schultz and Jersild wrote expertly and sensitively for voices in a highly conservative, lyrical idiom; Nørholm’s Americana sets US writers from Whitman to John Berryman and Robert Bly, but in a comfortable style with hints of jazz, Copland and Ivesian collage. The Nielsen items are solo songs, effectively arranged for a cappella chorus. What shines through the performances – which are beautifully shaped and enunciated, recorded in a pleasant church acoustic without undue resonance – is the sheer warmth of affection in which the choir holds these pieces. The singers make one feel that they have them, the Nielsen items especially, in their bones and in their hearts. No great discoveries here, then, but beautiful singing and a genuine ‘feel-good’ aura. Calum MacDonald