The title Like to the Lark comes from a Shakespeare sonnet (not one set by Ralph Vaughan Williams in the Three Shakespeare Songs included here), but it might just as well refer to the unusual version of Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending heard here, an arrangement of the work for violin and choir by Paul Drayton (2018). Everything seems to follow from the hushed, slightly mystical mood of that work, intensified by the vocalises in the outer sections and the setting of the poem that inspired The Lark Ascending in the middle. The Lark Ascending is such a commonly played work that making it sound new is a tall order, yet the arrangement and the arresting playing by violinist Jennifer Pike do the job. That's only the beginning of the surprises to list on this thoroughly original release, however. Continue with the mere fact of the Swedish Chamber Choir offering a half-English program, accent-free, and finding connections between English and Swedish music. The folk song settings of Hugo Alfvén could almost be mistaken for Vaughan Williams if they were not in Swedish. The contemporary selections are fresh: composer Judith Bingham took the unusual step of composing a prelude to an existing work, Charles Villiers Stanford's The Blue Bird, Op. 119, No. 3, and the Vaughan Williams and Bingham works are both echoed by Clytus Gottwald's choral arrangement of Mahler's Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, as both feature lovely contralto Maria Forsström. Every selection brings something unexpected here, combined with ravishing choral singing from the choir under its director, Simon Phipps. This is a superb choral release.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Three Shakespeare Songs for Unaccompanied Mixed Chorus|
|Three Choral Songs|
III. Havde jeg, o havde jeg en dattersøn, o ja! (Had I, O had I a Daughter's Son, O yea!). Allegretto vivace