Punapaula (Red Ribbon)

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Finlandia
PERFORMER: Talla Vocal Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: 2564-61484-2

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Punapaula, ‘a musical journey around the Baltic sea’, is this column’s small tribute to the enlarged European Union and, in musical terms, the opposite of the previous CD: a polished men’s vocal octet presents folksongs in concert composers’ arrangements. The first sounds like Delius and the second like Holst, but the arrangers’ styles diversify after that.

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One, if I correctly plumb the near-impenetrable depths of Finnish humour, is a spoof that works so well it can be enjoyed straight. The high point is a haunting lullaby from Estonia, which slowly fades away in a repetitive mutter, but all the singing is handsome, its three-and-a-half octave range topped by a notable adult male soprano.