Niels la Cour: Værker for kor og orgel
14 May 2015
Listening to this disc gives you the impression that Niels la Cour is a composer who writes with an earnest sincerity, which lies midway between the objective crafting of harmony and counterpoint and subjective poetic fervour. The result is highly approachable music, which is always user-friendly to performers and listeners. La Cour’s harmonic language is basically tonal but with hints of the sensual richness of composers such as Herbert Howells.
The clarity of la Cour’s choral textures is well conveyed by Trinitatis Kantori, and their conductor Søren Christian Vestergaard directs performances of dignity and restraint. The legato phrasing, combined with the warmth of the adult voices, makes for comfortable listening. For me, the best of the choral works is the expressive Cantio Mariae, particularly the moving ‘Stabat mater’. I would say that this composition is as fine as any other 20th-century European choral repertoire.
The two organ works are equally suitable to be played at concerts or acts of worship, and their clear-cut writing is well suited to the 1953 Marcussen organ in the Trinitatis Church in Copenhagen. It’s a threemanual, 53-stop instrument and its ‘neoclassical’ sounds take the Baroque era as an inspiration, although there are some more Romantic stops available. Bine Bryndorf’s impeccable performances include some colourful and imaginative registrations, hinting at the Gallic sound world of Alain, Messiaen and Tournemire.
This disc offers a fascinating glimpse into the modern Danish choral and organ culture, and listeners may find it a refreshing change from the usual catalogue of British, French and American composers. La Cour’s skills as a composer, plus the committed performances of choir and organist, give us a very enjoyable disc.