Det Norske Jentekor / Anne Karin Sundal-Ask

Folketoner

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Det Norske Jentekor, the Norwegian Girls Choir, made several recordings prior to the release of Folketoner in 2018. But this one marks a strong step forward. It's not so much the quality of the singing, although that has consistently improved under the direction of Anne Karin Sundal-Ask. It's the nexus between choir and engineering, the latter here accomplished at the talented hands of the Norwegian label 2L, a fixture of Grammy award nominations in the U.S. Here, working in a small Norwegian church, each soaring descant, each splash of chromatic harmony, comes through in almost preternatural detail. The music, as the title suggests, consists mostly of folk songs, with a few hymns and lullabies and some choral songs of Edvard Grieg. Many are well known to Norwegian audiences, but they lose no impact for those hearing them fresh. The folk songs are taken from a variety of arrangers, with the result that a different facet of the choir's talents is displayed with each new work although the overall textures are similar (the 45-minute length of the program is right). Sample the folk song Eg veit i himmerik ei borg for a good dose of the sopranos' pearly sound, and of the engineering in general. Is this choir the next big star of female group singing? Värttinä and the Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares haven't been heard consistently in the 2010s, so there's a real chance the answer is yes.

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