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Themed collections are tricky to pull off, often mixing styles awkwardly in pursuit of a big central idea. This one could hardly be more various, taking in Mahler, Poulenc, Monteverdi, Schoenberg alongside present-day Finnish composers, but done with such care and imagination that its broad-brush narrative, from troublous darkness to peaceful illumination, is genuinely moving. It begins with the symphonic Vinternatten by Juhani Komulainen, which shows offthe choir’s almost orchestral palette. The mood darkens with the unaccustomed bleakness of Poulenc’s Un soir de neige, written at Christmas 1944, war-sick and exhausted. Remarkable singing. As dawn breaks and spring approaches (Monteverdi’s O primavera might have been an awkward note, but it’s carried), the tone lightens, but with no sense of false climax. Instead, the whole set feels like part of an endless cycle of change and renewal. Closing on Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Och glädjen den dansar and then Schoenberg’s Schein uns, du liebe Sonne was a double coup. Faultless.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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