Carl Nielsen: Sange for kor
19 March 2015
At first glance Carl Nielsen’s childhood appears to have been one in which poverty ruled. And yet his upbringing, while materially poor, was spiritually rich. The Danish composer journeyed from rural isolation on the island of Funen, one of a dozen children born to a house-painter, to national fame. His mature artistic vision embraced both the radical and the popular.
The songs on this disc were written for the people, created for Denmark’s network of folk high schools in a style accessible to all: often jolly, always simple, effortless in melodic flow and harmonic clarity. ‘It is as if it is not I who am the composer of [these songs],’ Nielsen wrote to his wife, but ‘it is as if people from my childhood over on Funen… or the Danish people want something through me.’
The community spirit of Nielsen’s melodies for choir resonates throughout Ars Nova Copenhagen’s recording of 20 songs, no doubt touching Danish hearts more deeply than others but still clear and present for the non-native listener. Michael Bojesen’s sensitive harmonisations, based on Nielsen’s original piano parts, are matched by his fine feeling for nuance in performance and top quality singing from Ars Nova’s dozen choristers.