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February 25, 2010

Swedish Radio Choir soars

Chicago Classical Review (IL):

The composer Ingvar Lidholm once defined the Scandinavian brand of choral singing as “an absolutely even, equalized sound, in which every singer consents to relinquish his or her own personality in favor of the choir’s.” While said roughly a decade ago, it’s difficult to imagine a more fitting description of the Swedish Radio Choir today, whose 32-voice instrument is truly a cohesive musical force.

In their terrific concert Tuesday night at the suitably grand Fourth Presbyterian Church downtown, the a cappella ensemble offered a wide-ranging program under guest conductor and San Francisco Symphony chorus director Ragnar Bohlin.

Although the SRC is adept at making music from all corners of the globe, these Swedes are at their finest when they dig into works from their Scandinavian compatriots. Hugo Alfven’s free-wheeling Aftonen commanded one’s attention with its slivers of melody rising over easy swaying accompaniments, like that of an American spiritual.

All evening the altos and sopranos were impeccable with their tonal precision. Sven-David Sandstrom’s Lobet den Herrn, based on a text from Bach’s motet of the same name, showed the choir’s affection for experimentation; here stagnated bursts of notes projected out into the cathedral like drops of rain hitting a windshield.

Easily the evening’s most mesmerizing work was a wordless panorama of sound from Stockholm-born Anders Hillborg. Mouyayoum, in fact, hardly registers as music sung by people. More like that of effects pedals, Hillborg’s timbral collage approximates a family of woodwinds than human voices, and the effect was wholly seductive.

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Posted by acapnews at February 25, 2010 12:00 AM

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