Fryd With Fryd ‘joy’, Cantus invites you on a musical journey that starts in the meeting of two significant female figures: Mother and Mary. We wish to make a tribute to the Norwegian mothers who each year conjures up Christmas for the children through all kinds of Christmas preparations. At the same time it is a celebration of the Christian maternal figure, Mary, who gave God’s son to humanity. It is a meeting between the child in the manger, the new king, and the excited children longing for a Christmas filled with experiences and joy. In this way, these simple names – mother and Mary – embrace the message of Christmas and the exquisite joy we all know so well.
With Fryd Cantus explores the musical traditions of Christmas; from the older, little-known folk music related to the holidays, via some of our great Norwegian Christmas favorites in arrangements written specifically for Cantus, to brand new contemporary music. The music is presented both a cappella and in collaboration with, among other things, instruments like organ and the traditional instrument zither in Trygve Brøske’s innovative arrangements.
Total time: 00:52:41
|Original Recording Format|
Lademoen Church, Trondheim, Norway
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||November 15, 2019|
If you’re good at deciphering the somewhat abstract depiction of the Madonna and child on the album’s cover, and if you happen to know that “fryd” is a Norwegian word that means “joy” in English, you may (correctly) conclude that this is an album of Norwegian Christmas music. Otherwise you have to squint (preferably in a strong light) to read the extremely eye-unfriendly type (in English and Norwegian) on the back cover that gives a general description of the program: a “tribute to the Norwegian maternal figure who each year conjures up Christmas for the children through all kinds of Christmas preparations.” Okay. And yet, we still know relatively nothing about the actual musical content.
The point is if you’re looking to market this recording to a local or regional audience, fine; but if you’re looking at a much broader universe of prospective listeners, it’s a problem, because many people likely to really enjoy this disc will not ever get the chance. And listeners who enjoy choral music, Christmas or otherwise, will absolutely enjoy this, fully for the exceptional singing by a world-class women’s ensemble and for the high quality of the music.
Most of the music consists of expertly written arrangements of Norwegian songs and original pieces by Norwegian composers–including Kim André Arnesen, Ola Gjeilo, Frank Havrøy–and for most listeners none of it (with two notable exceptions) will conjure familiar connections to the sounds, images, or experiences of Christmas. But amazingly, happily, it doesn’t really matter, because as soon as you know what the songs are about, the music and the lovely sound of it confirms its inspiration and purpose. One especially pertinent example is “O jul med din glede”, a lively, colorful song traditionally sung by children, joining hands and “walking around the Christmas tree”.
The two exceptions mentioned above: a rendition of “Silent Night” with Norwegian text (“sung in most Christmas concerts in Norway”) and a beautiful arrangement (“with new Norwegian lyrics”) of Max Reger’s well-loved Maria Wiegenlied. Other highlights are Gjeilo’s powerful and oft-performed Northern Lights and a very engaging Sancta Maria by Havrøy and similarly memorable setting of Ave Regina Caelorum by Arnesen. The rest of the program is made up of titles such as “Sov, sov liten gut”, “Det lyser i stille grender”, and “I denne søte juletid”. Some have brief descriptions of the song’s meaning; only a few have translations of any kind. In fact, as is usual with this audiophile label, there is far more information regarding the technical details of the recording than about the music and performers. The entire liner booklet is printed in a format that can only have been designed to ensure that the text wouldn’t actually be read.
And yet, there’s something truly compelling–magical, mystical, whatever you want to call it–about this music and the singing–at once refined and polished, and occasionally colored with folk-style sounds and techniques–that will keep you listening, no matter the occasion or time of year. (The package also includes a Blu-ray Disc.) Recommended.
Artistic Quality: 9 Stars
Sound Quality: 10 Stars
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