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“Ja, vi elsker” – Staff Band of Norwegian Armed Forces/ Schola Cantorum/ Ingar Bergby – 2L Pure Audio Blu-ray+SACD

“Ja, vi elsker” – Staff Band of Norwegian Armed Forces/ Schola Cantorum/ Ingar Bergby – 2L Pure Audio Blu-ray DTS-HD MA (192/24) 5.1 +  SACD MCH 5.1 DSD 2L-102 (2 discs), 75:25 ea. [Distr. by Naxos] *****:

At first glance you might not think this album is for you; unabashedly nationalistic, and in fact done for the specific celebration of the 200th year of Norway’s constitution, it is full of not only the first complete recording of their national anthem (all the verses), but a number of patriotic songs and marches. According to the notes, many Norwegians will have heard this music and even participated in much of it from childhood. And the notes to this release are a little gushy and full of pride about the wonders of Norway. Well, why not? It is their celebration and they have as much a right to national pride as anyone. Here in America we should also take part in the festivities with them as their constitution is the second oldest active and functioning one in the world—right after ours.

But the surprising thing about this music is how downright beautiful and tuneful it all is. There isn’t one track here that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. I must admit that all things Norway for me started with my first exposure to Monty Python years ago, which does date me. (A moose bit my sister once…no, really! Remember that?) But with exposure to Grieg and other composers early on that connotation was quickly dispelled if not erased from memory. But with music like this, played with such pride and zest, and sung magnificently, the Universalist in me—musically speaking, that is—rises to the fore, and I make these wonderful pieces my own. It is a foot-tapping and hum-along romp if ever there was one, and the sound is fantastic, real blow-you-away stuff. As usual I find the SACD disc slightly warmer than the Blu-ray, but it’s getting closer all the time. If you are in need of some mind-clearing, refreshing, and purifying sounds, try this splendid disc—you will not regret it!

TrackList:

1. Kongesangen [1600-1700s] (arr. S. Aareskjold)
2. Bojarernes intogsmarsch (Entry March of the Boyars) (arr. F. Winterbottom)
3. Mellom bakkar og berg (arr. S. Nordhagen)
4. Norsk rapsodi No. 1 (arr. S. Nordhagen)
5. Vi ere en nasjon, vi med (arr. S.H. Giske)
6. Norsk kunstnerkarneval, Op. 14 (arr. D. Godfrey)
7. Gud signe vart dyre fedreland (arr. O. Westby)
8. 3 Orchestral Pieces from Sigurd Jorsalfar, Op. 56: No. 3. Hyldningsmarsj (arr. O. Westby)
9. Sonner av Norge (arr. R. Gilje)
10. Kronprins Olavs Honnormarsch (arr. B. Mellemberg)
11. Norge i rodt, hvitt og blatt (arr. S.H. Giske)
12. Kong Haakon den VIIdes Honnormarsch (arr. B. Mellemberg)
13. Fagert er landet (arr. P. Winroth)
14. Valdres Marsj (Valdres March)
15. Ja, vi elsker dette landet (arr. O. Westby)

—Steven Ritter

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