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Cat. No. CHAN 0763 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 0763 - Nordic Voices - Victoria/ Gesualdo/Palestrina/White: Lamentations
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Available From: 01 September 2009
Nordic Voices - Victoria/ Gesualdo/Palestrina/White: Lamentations

Nordic Voices is a six-voice a cappella group blending solo and ensemble qualities.  They have received glowing praise for their concert performances, and their initial release on Chandos (CHSA 5050) received praise from around the world.  Washington Post wrote, ‘Intonations?  Impeccable.  Ensemble?  Unfailing precision in phrasing, dynamics, colour – everything finely tuned.  A succession of works ever-changing and expressing in meaning.’  Gramophone noted ‘ringing, clear timbres and an impressive blend.’

This current collection, superbly sung by these Norwegians, draws attention to the idea of global conflict.  An idea inspired by the Offices of Tenebrae.  The offices of Tenebrae (on the last three days of Holy Week) have always been celebrated with a sense of the drama appropriate to their commemoration of Christ’s Passion.  The texts are about conflict and are as relevant and moving today as they must have been to the composers of the sixteenth century.  Most major composers active in Catholic Europe in the late sixteenth century wrote at least one set of Tenebrae lamentations and/or responsories, partly because of liturgical demand but also because their highly-charged texts provided an opportunity for expressive writing.  

The four composers represented here present a fascinating contrast to approaches to text setting.  Luis de Victoria was born in Avila but spent his formative years in Rome where he published his Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae in 1585, containing a complete set of music for Holy Week.  The lessons sung here come from all three days and show Victoria’s careful setting of the text and his ability to control texture by a constant grouping and regrouping of different voices.  Perhaps unexpectedly, a significant group of Latin lamentation settings was composed in the England of Elizabeth I.  The lamentation texts, with their undertones of religious persecution, could speak to both Protestants and Catholics alike.  Robert White worked at Ely and Chester Cathedrals before moving to Westminster Abbey as Master of the Choristers by 1570.

Nordic Voices will donate a portion of their royalties for this recording to UNICEF.


“…They [Nordic Voices] display a remarkably tight blend and ensemble. These six singers are evidently so accustomed to singing together that their combination is like a single highly disciplined instrument. Within the narrow band of the present repertory, they are warmly expressive in their singing-in contrast to choirs that seem to cultivate a dispassionate style. Perhaps the most moving performance here is Gesualdo’s ‘Tenebrae Factae Sunt’, which concludes the program. They display extraordinary control in the quiet, sustained writing of this piece. It leaves the listener breathless.”

William J Gatens

American Record Guide - March/April 2010

“…warm, consistent and moving.”
Anthony Pryer

BBC Music Magazine - February 2010

“Chandos’ excellent recording is entirely sympathetic to the superb singing, with a wide, well-defined stereo spread and perfect proportion between presence and resonance in the marvellous church acoustic. This disc is recommendable on all levels.”
*** Recording of the Month ***
Dominy Clements


“There’s a simple eloquence about the singing, part product of refined corporate musicianship, part of allowing expressive effects to speak naturally without affectation. Top-class work from Norway’s leading vocal ensemble”
Andrew Stewart

Classic FM Magazine - November 2009

“The six-voice Norwegian ensemble sings with purity and expressivity…”
D James Ross

Early Music Review - November 2009

“All of the singers are very expressive and clearly have formidable techniques, something that is especially noticeable with the sopranos Tone Elisabeth Braaten and Ingrid Hanken who manage Robert White’s high tessitura with ease. I also like the solid low-notes from bass Njål Sparbo which underpin the performances and lend an important sense of gravitas to some of the more difficult passages in Gesualdo’s Tenebrae factae sunt, for instance. This is actually one of the most convincing recordings of his work that I have heard…With the combination of thoughtful programming and skilful singing Nordic Voices remind us that these Lamentations have a relevant message in today’s world. Using lamentations to signify hope in this way not only makes for a beautiful album but also gives us listeners much to think about.”

Ed Breen


“The pieces collected here are all lessons and responsories written for the Tenebrae liturgy, which is celebrated during the last three days of Holy Week. The program is more diverse than it might seem at first glance: Robert White’s Tudor reserve contrasts with Palestrina’s and Victoria’s Mediterranean intensity, and Gesualdo’s crazy tessitura and
chromaticism and emotional turmoil make everything else seem tame by comparison. Great program, great singing, great sound.”
Rick Anderson

Baker & Taylor CD Hotlist - October 2009


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