Review: Morgenbladet 17. -23. December 2010.
Magnus Anderson

A World Class Christmas Concert


Nordic Voices is a top notch ensemble particularly when they sing with techniques in whose development they themselves have been actively taking part.

… The program i Gamle Aker Kirke opened with ”Solbøn” from Lasse Thoresen’s Opus 42, and it closed with ”Himmelske Fader” from the same opus. Earlier this year the composer received the music prize of the Nordic Council for the whole opus that was written for Nordic Voices. Their collaboration stretches back several years, during which time Thoresen has been prodding the ensemble on to refine vocal techniques that are very hard for singers to master.

A number of composers have taken part in this research into vocal techniques, and during the initial phase much music was written that sought for mere effects without a sufficiently interesting structure. Opus 42 is a temporary climax of this project, in that Thoresen does not overcharge the music with technical peculiarities, and accordingly is able to concentrate on the creation of the music’s overall form so it unfolds like a drama. Nordic Voices are unsurpassed in singing with these novel techniques. They have learnt to master the most outrageously difficult things, making them sound effortless and beautiful. Through dense microtonal sounds and a play on overtones that make us listeners wonder what notes we really do hear, the Nordic Voices draws up a sublime, beautiful surface – and it is incredible what depths can hide beneath such a refined surface.

Nordic Voices had also programmed older music at the concert… their performance and interplay deserves a mention that involves the word ‘World Class’. Nevertheless it is with the techniques that they developed in the collaboration with Thoresen and other composers in the so called Concrescence Project that they really feel at ease. Here they are not only best in what they are doing; they are active researchers through their approach to musicianship, and in this way they take the lead in the development of vocal ensembles generally.

For those that could not attend the concert the record Djsånki don is warmly recommended. It is brilliant even though the ensemble now is in even better command of the new techniques. What is more, contemporary music is brought down from its ivory tower and given a simple, sensual appearance, thus making it accessible to everybody that is prepared to sit down and listen.


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