It is delightful that the ambitious concert projects by the Helsinki Chamber Choir so often become available in recorded form. Sometimes this takes time; the works on Towards the Light were recorded in 2014 but released only recently by British ICSM Records.
The two works by Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928–2016), the large Missa a cappella (2010) and the Christmas carol Our Joyful’st Feast (2008), make a somewhat odd pair. Rautavaara’s powerful setting of the Latin mass text includes lofty solos and sonorities that often appear archaic or biting.
Lotta Wennäkoski’s (b. 1970) Ommel (2013) plays with the characteristics of different languages. An 8th-century Japanese poem and its four translations give rise to a multifaceted musical whole. Wennäkoski uses the human voice in a variety of ways – in Valossa (2014) from speech to exalted vocal lines.
Lamenti (2011) by Paola Livorsi (b. 1967) is a fine elegy to a deceased friend. The subdued music, saturated with microtonal falling figures, becomes luminous in the choir’s performance.
Towards the Light
Helsinki Chamber Choir, cond. Nils Schweckendiek