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  2L -
  Magnum Mysterium - Grex Vocalis
  Magnum Mysterium

Grex Vocalis
Carl Høgset (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Vocal
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 1

Reviews: 3

Site review by Polly Nomial December 1, 2007
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Review by wehecht March 20, 2007 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
First I ought to deal with what some may see as conflicts. I received this disc as part of Mr. Lindberg's recent offer to provide freebies for previous reviewers on I requested this disc and was frankly amazed to receive as well "Immortal Nystedt" and "Concertos and Fairytales". Additionally I guess I should say that this is Christmas music, and as I minister in a Lutheran congregation I am admittedly predisposed toward the message.

Disclaimers out of the way I might as well start out by talking about contents: this disc contains 16 tracks of Christmas music through the centuries including five settings of O Magnum Mysterium, the opening words of Christmas Midnight Mass, ranging from those of 16th century composers Palestrina and Victoria to living composers Lauridsen and Busto, with Poulenc rounding out the group. The balance of the disc consists of a nice variety of (mostly) European Christmas music including a few traditional carols such as Stille Nacht. The Norwegian choir sings in their native language as well as Latin, English, German and French. I can only comment on the diction in Latin and English, both of which are excellent. The performances, and I hate to use that word in this context because the sense of wonder and awe conveyed by the choir and its conductor is palpable, are beyond reproach. This mixed group of 25 or so singers produces a sound that is truly beautiful and helps communicate the text regardless of language.

Production values for this, as well as all other 2L discs I've seen (including the two I've bought and paid for) are excellent, especially English translations of the notes that are not only accurate (a Norwegian parishoner tells me), but idiomatic as well. The (mc) sound is stunning, documenting yet again that first rate results are available from pcm masters, in this case 24/44.1.

The only way this listening experience could have been better is if I'd had the good sense to acquire this disc on my own about three months ago.

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Review by threerandot May 10, 2007 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Magnum Mysterium is another collection of Christmas Music for the holiday season from 2L. Unlike the Sølvguttene disc, this collection features the Vocal choir in a cappella arrangements. In all there are five arrangements of the "O Magnum Mysterium" on this disc; Giovanni da Palestrina and Tomas Luis de Victoria, and the twentieth century composers Francis Poulenc, Morten Lauridsen and Javier Busto. In addition to the settings of O Magnum Mysterium we get a nice mix of carols and songs for the holiday season.

Throughout this disc there is excellent singing that can only enhance the devotional quality of the works presented, especially given the sonics. I listened to this disc in Multi-Channel and the surround effect is impressive. Unfortunately, the sung texts are not printed in the digipak case.

"In The Bleak Mid-Winter" features an elegant tenor solor by Magnus Stevland with a sensitive accompaniment by Terje Winge on organ, the only track to feature an instrument other than the human voice. "I denne søte juletid" is a jubilant setting of a Norwegian folk tune. "The Infant King" is a moving lullaby for the Baby Jesus. "Away In A Manger" is one of the world's most popular yuletide favorites that is presented here in a unique arrangement by Reginald Jacques that gets better with every listen. Perhaps the world's most famous carol, "Silent Night" is also here in an arrangement by Eusebius Mandyczewski with a more traditional approach. "Kling no Klokka" (Ring, Bells), is another Norwegian Melody, harmonised in an uptempo arrangement by Per Steenberg. Another traditional carol is the joyous arrangement of "Angels We Have Heard on High" by Graham Buckland. "Il est né, le divin Enfant" is another stand-out with jubilant and spirited singing in an arrangement by A. Langrée. "Du grønne, glitrende tre" (O Green and glittering tree), features another solo by tenor Magnus Stevland in an arrangement by Edvard Grieg. "Det hev ei rosa sprunge" (A Great and Mighty Wonder) is another beautifully sung carol by Michael Praetorius.

There are actually five settings of the "O Magnum Mysterium" on this disc, hence the title of this collection. The Morten Laurisden arrangement is sung in soft tones and is filled with wonder and awe and is definitely a highlight. The one by Palestrina is a fine example of renaissance polyphony. It also contains one of the most complex arrangements. Tomas Luis de Victoria presents an arrangement that is more sombre in tone. I also enjoyed the setting by Francis Poulenc. The version by Javier Busto is magical with its opening hushed voices and spiritual quality. I think I like this version better than the Poulenc track as it contrasts different portions of the choir, such as male or female, as well as having some very fascinating harmonic changes throughout.

The audio of the Uranienborg Church is presented with a deep, deep acoustic. Some of the voices are a tad bit out of focus at times, but never too distracting. Overall, this deep acoustic seems to only enhance the emotion of this music with voices mainly from the front speakers, with the rears providing plenty of depth to the sound. The recording does present the feeling of being there. Very impressive.

2L really seem to enjoy creating Christmas Collections and I expect we will be seeing more of them as time goes on. The Grex Vocalis are a strong and colorful ensemble who have an excellent leader in Carl Hogset. This recording provides a very diverse collection of tunes in excellent sound. We get renaissance polyphony, traditional tunes in modern arrangements and even some rare songs that deserve to be heard more often. If you want an inspiring collection of music for the holidays, this is a great place to start. Recommended.

(This review refers to the MCH portion of this disc.)

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