STYLE: Choral RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 86780- LABEL: Proprius PRCD2050 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
Christmas in Sweden must be different to what we are used here in Britain: colder for a start, with longer nights and brighter stars. Although the story of the birth of the Saviour is always going to be the same wherever it is told, the midwinter customs and traditions that get attached to the real Christmas experience can be very different. Laudes is a Swedish choir based in Stockholm and in this collection we get a curious mix of the sacred and secular sung in both English and Swedish. As there are no lyrics included within the brief CD booklet your reviewer, who regrets that he has forgotten all the Swedish he learned at school, is left guessing at what some of the songs are about. We open with a mellow "Mitt Hjerte Alltid Vanker", a Svensk folkvisa which I am pretty sure means Swedish folk-song. It sounds very laid-back: think of the Swingle Singers with a lounge jazz band. Next up is "Jingle Bells" followed by a medley that includes "Frosty The Snowman" and we are moving into grimly familiar territory for this time of year. The singing is pleasant enough but the songs are so over-familiar that one wonders why they have bothered. The low note, metaphorically speaking, is "Bella Notte" that includes a version of "When You Wish Upon A Star" that the Disney Corporation would reject as being too sickly-sweet for human consumption. I was about to hit eject and give this up as a bad job when the standard improved with a lovely version of Rutter's "Nativity Carol" followed by Nyberg's "Den Signade Dag". We have left the easy listening smooth jazz behind and taken on more of a church choir feel and the CD is all the better for it. Another Rutter follows ("Candlelight Carol") and a nice "Stilla Natt" (go on - you can translate this one I'm sure) and two closing Swedish songs that seem religious in atmosphere, even though I have not the foggiest what they are actually about. So very much a mixed Christmas stocking: the first half is hard going and the second half is lovely. Regrettably this is a very short album (under 40 minutes) so the good parts still do not add up to much. One for homesick Swedes, me thinks.
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