ja, vi elsker - Schola Cantorum
2L 2L-104-SABD (2 discs)
Classical - Vocal
Anon: Kongesangen; Vi ere en nasjon, vi med
Johan Halvorsen (1864-1935): Bojarernes Indtogsmarsch (Entry March of the Boyars); Norsk rapsodi No. 1
Ludvig Mathias Lindeman (1812-1887): Mellom bakkar og berg
Johan Svendsen (1840-1911): Norsk kunstnerkarneval, Op. 14
Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse (1774-1842): Gud signe vårt dyre fedreland
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907): Hyldningsmarsj fra Sigurd Jorsalfar, Op. 56 No. 3
Christian Blom (1782-1861): Sønner av Norge
Oscar Borg (1851-1930): Kronprins Olavs Honnørmarsch; Kong Haakon den VIIdes Honnørmarsch
Lars-Erik Larsson (1908-1986): Norge i rødt, hvitt og blått
Melchior Vulpius (ca. 1570-1615): Fagert er landet 5:34
Johannes Hanssen (1874-1967): Valdresmarsj 3:37
Rikard Nordraak (1842-1866): Ja, vi elsker dette landet
Ingar Bergby (conductor)
This music has been specially chosen to celebrate the 200th anniversary in 2014 of the Norwegian Constitution. As well as being compelling in its own right, the works featured here serve as a musical history book, offering an insight into parts of the Norwegian saga. Several songs are clear examples of how a "national song" can be a way of marking and remembering the nation's history. In this recording we give the national anthem in its complete form, something that is seldom done, and, through many fresh arrangements of familiar melodies and a splendid "outdoor" sound, offer a new and invigorating listening experience.
Recorded at Jar Church and Uranienborg Church 2013 by Lindberg Lyd AS in 352.8kHz/24bit
Recording Producer and Balance Engineer MORTEN LINDBERG
Recording Technician BEATRICE JOHANNESSEN
Editing JØRN SIMENSTAD and MORTEN LINDBERG
Mix and Mastering MORTEN LINDBERG
Executive Producers JØRN SIMENSTAD and MORTEN LINDBERG
Review by John Miller - May 1, 2014
This year (2014) is the 200th Anniversary of Norway's Constitution; the oldest constitution still in action after that of the USA. On Constitution Day, 17th of May, the whole country will be celebrating. School bands march through the streets, joined or watched by others - also marking the onset of Spring and the freedom of movement which that brings to northern lands. In school, children sing songs of praise for their country and its history (with not a Viking in sight!).
As their contribution to the Anniversary, 2L join with the famed Staff Band of the Norwegian Armed Forces (conductor Ingar Bergby) and the Schola Cantorum choir (conductor Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl) to perform a selection of the most important music traditionally associated with Constitution Day. Choral items are interspersed with wind band pieces (mainly marches) by Norwegian composers such as Halvorsen, Svensen, Grieg (of course!), Borg and Rikard Nordraak, who composed the National Anthem, 'Ja, vi elsker dette landet'. This is an uplifting programme of greater musical quality than one would expect from mere nationalism .
As one who has spent quite some time in Norway since my first visit as a student, I felt very at home with this disc,even more so with the first track, the King's Song, where the tune is that of 'God Save the King' which also happens to be the National Anthem of Great Britain. An extensive and fascinating booklet essay by Erik Fosnes Hansen takes us through the sounds that Norwegians hear from their childhood on Constitution Day, and discusses how to capture them for a recording for this special day.
Satisfactory recording of marching bands outdoors is nearly impossible, and in addition, merging a wind band with a mixed-voice chorus is a tricky marriage. Morten Lindberg and his team selected two church venues in Oslo with large enough space to let the music truly expand - the 'indoors outdoors', as it were. The Uranienborg Church just behind the Royal Palace is Late C19th Gothic, and seats 1020. Given the large acoustic of the church, with evidence from the recording of reflections decaying for several seconds after the music stops, and the sensationally immersive and thrilling sound from the combined musical forces, I suspect that the choir/band sessions were held in the Uranienborg. The wind band alone, however, seems to be in a smaller (but still airy) venue, and the modernistic Jar Church in Baerum with light brick walls and a very steep roof would fit the bill. In multichannel, it produces a solid stage image with fabulous detail and pin-sharp positional focus, despite the lively acoustic.
Hansen in his booklet essay ('The Sound of Gold and Freedom') puts the music and also the concept of loving one's land in context. He considers patriotism in its literary sense, discusses what Nationalism means to Norwegians in particular and also visits the problematic side of Nationalism in our present world, mindful of the extreme Nationalistic terror which sadly visited Norway only a few years ago. I'm sure that for most Norwegians, the coming Anniversary day will have a special significance.
Musically, this disc is an unexpected feast. Traditional arrangements have been polished up or renewed and the National Anthem (Ja, vi elske) is played in its entirety for the first time in ages. The band plays a whole range of colourful accompaniments to the anthem's stanzas, from solo descants to menacing bass drum rolls, elfin muted trumpets and sparkling glockenspiel notes. The playing and singing indicate the total joy of the performers in the project, and the musicians' spontaneous brilliance is breath-taking from the very first bars. Yet there is much soft, tender music from both choir and band, who each demonstrate their professionalism and innate skill in passages of great beauty. There is also a good deal of humorous self-deprecation by the Band, for example the very cheeky Bojarernes Indtogsmarsch (Entry March of the Boyars) by Halvorsen.
2L's two discs come in an SA-CD jewel box with rounded corners. The glowering mountain photograph with glacier-smoothed valley sits sternly behind the first three words of the National Anthem and gives an inkling of what Norwegians have to love. The information-packed booklet is in Norwegian and English, except for the choral texts which are only Norwegian. Given the premise of this project, I see no reason to exercise my usual disapproval of untranslated vocal texts, at least personally. In fact I was able to resurrect my rusty Norwegian and join in with the National Anthem. The sheer fervency and brilliant communication of choir and band on this disc could make anyone wish they had actually been able to take part in its making.
The BluRay disc can be played without a video, using a player's remote control coloured buttons. The screen setup is backed by the same imposing view of Trollstigen and the arrow buttons can negotiate the menus. I wasn't able, on comparison with the SA-CD, to detect any convincing difference between the two sources at the BluRay's highest resolution, except perhaps that the BluRay version had a slightly brighter upper treble, and the crisp execution of the splendid fanfare which opens Track 1 had a touch less impact in Blu-Ray. In a blindfold test, I suspect that I wouldn't reliably be able to identify which source was being played, especially using a player which can play both SA-CD and BluRay. An added feature is able to use the mShuttle technology to connect to a local network and download copies "of your favourite tracks" which reside on the disc: MP3, 96/24 flac, RB wave and 5.1 96/24 FLAC are available.
This is a self-advertising purchase. Sonically, particularly in multichannel 5.1, it may be even more realistic and astonishing than Morten Lindberg's recent disc with the Staff Band of the Norwegian Armed Forces with its Grammy nomination in 2013 of "Best engineered sound, classical" for their La Voix Triumphale disc. The deeply personal nature of this programme for the musicians, even though recordings were done in 2013, produced performances of fully committed spontaneity which have been stitched together as an enjoyable programme to make a great impression even for those of us not from Norway.
Buy the discs and have your own Constitution Day!
Copyright © 2014 John Miller and HRAudio.net