Singer Pur

Nordic Vocal Music

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The all-male German vocal group Singer Pur, here augmented by Swedish soprano Caroline Höglund, has emerged as an intriguing Continental counterpart to the King's Singers, with a similar flair for unusual programming. This disc of Scandinavian music for a cappella singers, recorded in 1997, was one of their earlier efforts, but gave indications of what was to come. Note that this reissue promises and duly delivers booklet notes in Swedish, German, and English, but the texts of the music itself are only in their original languages (which include English and Finnish) and in German. The notes themselves are not terribly informative, either, and track 8, Kvällen stundar, is made to look like a composition by Rautavaara when in fact it is not. But fortunately the music can stand on its own. It dates from the late nineteenth century, in a work by Wilhelm Stenhammar, to the present day, and it's quite an attractive collection that ideally showcases the sextet of singers. The music proceeds by turns from late Romantic styles to folk simplicity to contemporary idioms, with the singers drawing sharp contrasts by emphasizing chromatic harmonies with precise vibrato-less singing and little slides (again like the King's Singers), never pushing them over the edge into mannerism. An interesting aspect of the program is that it includes three settings of texts by Shakespeare, in English, by two different composers. Sample one of these, perhaps the Sonet 147 ("My love is a fever"), track 2, for an idea of the group's style, which sets off the plainer pieces in such a way that even rather pedestrian material finds its place. Better presentation of the material would have been helpful, but fans of unaccompanied choral singing will enjoy this Singer Pur release.

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