Orphei Drangar And Friends - Christmas Songs

Published Monday 8th February 2010
Orphei Drangar And Friends - Christmas Songs
Orphei Drangar And Friends - Christmas Songs

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Orphei Drangar is a long-established and well-respected male voice choir from Uppsala in Sweden. On this collection they explore Christmas songs from a variety of sources with the help of some special guests including the excellent soprano Ida Falk Winland. The first seven songs are Scandinavian in origin. On the assumption that not many of our readers will be fluent in any of the languages I will merely list the composers and not the titles: Pererik Moraeus (Swedish), Carl Nielsen (Danish), Gustaf Nordqvist (Swedish), Selim Palmgren (Finnish), Ingvar Lindholm (Swedish) plus two traditional Swedish songs arranged by Staffan Lindberg. This is, to British ears, an unusual selection but an enjoyable one for those who enjoy male voices. Next we move into an international section with the Dutchman Jan Sweelinck's setting of the Latin "Hodie Christus Natus", Handel's "He Shall Feed His Flock" from 'Messiah' with a beautiful melody line from Miss Winland, the American Eric Whitacre's modern classic "Lux aurumque", Franz Gruber's "Stille Nachte" from Austria, and the Russian Nikolai Golovanov's "Dostoyno Yest" ("Is It Truly Proper"), an Eastern Orthodox hymn to the Mother of God sung in Church Slavonic. Then we step back in time for "Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen" by Michael Praetorius before heading over to America for our penultimate selection: "Joy To The World" by Lowell Mason, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" by Martin and Blane and "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)" by Mel Torme. We conclude with three Old World classics: "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" and "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day". The choir is in splendid voice throughout and the guest appearances from the friends stop it sounding too similar. We have praised Ida Falk Winland already but she is good enough to do so again. Also welcome are the contributions from the Linne Brass Quintet and members of the Uppsala Chamber Choir. In all this is an interesting collection of the old and the new and one that will be appreciated by all lovers of male voice choirs.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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