‘Valossa – From Darkness to Light’ (TrackList follows) – Kaamos Chamber Choir/ Dani Juris – Alba multichannel SACD NCD47, 48:56 (Distr. by Albany) ****:
This collection represents works from the repertoire of the first four years of the Kaamos Chamber Choir, an outstanding Finnish vocal ensemble founded in 2010. I enjoyed this collection a great deal, mainly for the wonderful performances.
This is a terrific group with individuals who are truly symbiotic with each other and their director. Their group timbre is smooth, liquid, transparent and unified. Their intonation and balance are impeccable and their diction is pristine, covering French, German and Finnish.
The program itself is a very interesting collection of works that address various aspects of the sense of light; literally from dark to light or brightness. “Valossa” being a Finnish word that refers to light-ness/lucidity (“in the light of…”). The works are also programmed in a manner that addresses darkness of seasons or moods to the brightness of seasons and moods. For example, the opening work, Vinternatten (Winter Night) by Juhani Komulainen all the way to the closing Schein uns, du liebe Sonne (Shine On Us, Dear Sun) by the perhaps unexpected Arnold Schoenberg.
Each song in this wonderful collection is endearing and attention getting in its own way but some provide particular pleasant surprises. For example, the Clytus Gottwald setting of Mahler’s well-known melody “The Two Blue Eyes” holds a lovely simplicity and the sopranos handle those dangerous leaps adroitly. Similarly, one would not expect Monteverdi to show up in this collection, but his O Primavera is a wonderfully buoyant ode to spring that provides a madrigal like sound that distinguishes itself within the group.
A couple of the works from composers I did not know offer much to the listener. The Three Folk Songs for double mixed choir by Mikko Heiniö are a treat. Each song offers a very cheery, “spring-like” atmosphere to that part of the program with its tales of young dancing couples, fiddlers and partying. On the “dark” side of things, Toivo Kuula’s Barcarolle (Boat Song) paints a picture of a too-crowded vessel with oars struggling against a late winter gale to steer the craft safely to its destination and protect the children huddled in the hull. There is a sense of urgency to the choral writing.
This is a most attractive choral disc with a great theme and wonderful performances. The Kaamos Chamber Choir and their director Dani Juris are certainly a fine ensemble and I think any fan of good vocal music would love this disc in hi-res surround!
TrackList:1. Vinternatten (Komulainen) 2.-5. Un soir de neige (Poulenc) 6. Die zwei blauen Augen (Mahler-Gottwald) 7. Venelaula (Boat Song) (Kuula) 8. O Primavera (Monteverdi) 9.-11. Three Folk Songs (Heiniö) 12. Juhannus (Palmgren) 13. Onnelliser (Madetoja) 14. Min yndlingsdal (Jersild) 15. Och glädjen den dansar (Rautavaara) 16. Schein uns, der lieb Sonne (Schoenberg)