Sunday, 8 March 2015

Choral works: Liber Canticorum

Holmboe's works for unaccompanied choir are amongst his most popular, and amongst those the collection known as Liber Canticorum is prominent.  Liber Canticorum is not a single work, but a collection of 17 works (and a total of 34 movements) with texts taken from the Latin version of the Old Testament books of Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Identifying recordings of the Liber Canticorum is made more complex because that title is not always referred to. Many listings only mention the title of the particular work (taken from its first line), and with the multi-movement works each movement might simply be listed by its own first line. Holmboe complicated matters by changing his own approach to naming with the last few works. Because of this, it is worth setting out the contents of Liber Canticorum in more detail.

Liber Canticorum I, op.54 (M.172)
  • Non est memoria (op.54a)
  • Generatio præterit (op.54b)
  • Omnia flumina (op.54c)
  • Quia hæc dicit Excelsus (op.54d)
  • Exspectavimus pacem / Dolor meus / Transiit messis (op.54e, 3 movements)
Liber Canticorum II, op.59 (M.178)
  • Benedic Domino, anima mea / Hominis dies / Benedicite Domino (op.59a, 3 movements)
  • Domine, libera animam meam / Nimium habitaavit anima mea (op.59b, 2 movements)
  • Lauda, anima mea / Laudabo Dominum / Psallam Deo (op.59c, 3 movements)
Liber Canticorum III, op.60 (M.179)
  • Dedique cor meum (op.60a)
  • Vanitas vanitatum (op.60b)
Liber Canticorum IV, op.61 (M.180)
  • Miserere mei / Evigila / Laudabo (op.61a, 3 movements)
  • Cantabo Domino / Jucundum / Ego lætabor (op.61b, 3 movements)
  • Domine, non superbit (op.61c)
  • Speravi in Domino / Et extraxit me / Et posuit (op.61d, 3 movements)
Liber Canticorum V, op.96a (M.236)
  • Beatus vir
Liber Canticorum Va "Hominis Dies", op.158a (M.318)
  • Alleluia! Dicite Deo / Alleluia! Quomodo cessavit exactor / Alleluia! Vox Domini super aquas (3 movements)
Liber Canticorum Vb "Laudate Dominum", op.158b (M.319)
  •  Alleluia! Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi / Exaudi, Deus / Laudate Dominum (3 movements)

There is only one complete recording of the entire collection. It involves six different choirs, collectively referred to as "Danske Kammerkor" (Danish Chamber Choirs). They are Kammerkoret Carmina (Carmina Chamber Choir), Universitetskoret Lille MUKO (University Choir Lille MUKO), Kammerkoret Camerata (Camerata Chamber Choir), Det Jyske Kammerkor (The Jutland Chamber Choir), Kammerkoret Hymnia (Hymnia Chamber Choir) and Sokkelund Sangkor (Sokkelund Choir). The collection was released as a 3-CD set (Danica DCD 8209/11). I am unsure how widely it is available - Amazon has a download version, and the CD version can be bought from at least one of the choirs, the Lille MUKO.

The set is the only source for 8 out of 17 works: opp.54a, 54b, 54d, 54e, 59b, 60a, 60b and 61b.

Individual recordings

Individual works from the collection can be found on a large number of recordings. To make it somewhat easier to navigate the listings below, I have summarised the number of additional listings for each work.
  • Omnia flumina, op.54c - 1 recording
  • Benedic Domino, anima mea, op.59a - 6 recordings
  • Lauda, anima mea, op.59c - 3 recordings
  • Miserere mei, op.61a - 1 recording  (NB only on LP)
  • Domine, non superbit, op.61c - 2 recordings (NB both difficult to find)
  • Speravi in Domino, op.61d - 2 recordings
  • Beatus vir, op.96a - 2 recordings
  • Hominis Dies, op.158a - 1 recording
  • Laudate Dominum, op.158b - 3 recordings

The Sokkelund Sangkor, conducted by Morton Schuldt-Jensen, also recorded Omnia flumina op.54c and Lauda, anima mea op.59c for their all-Holmboe Works for A Capella Choir (Da Capo DCCD 9204).

The Sct. Peders (Saint Peter's) Concert Choir, conducted by Karsten Blond, include Beatus vir op.96a and Hominis Dies op.158a in their all-Holmboe disc Works for choir (Paula CD 113).

The University Choir Lille MUKO, conducted by Jesper Grove Jørgensen, recorded Benedic Domino, anima mea op.59a, Speravi in Domino op.61d and Laudate Dominum op.158b along with works by Niels La Cour for a disc called Laudate Dominum released in 1994 (Point PCD 5115). The recording of op.61d was re-used for the complete Danica set, but the others were not.

The Jysk Akademisk Kor (JAK, Jutland Academic Choir), conducted by Søren Birch, recorded Domine, non superbit op.61c and Laudate Dominum op.158b (plus the Jaeger songs, op.98 and works by other composers) for a collection called Spejlinger – nyere dansk kormusik (Reflections - contemporary Danish choral music) (Point PCD 5127). This might be available from the choir directly, as I have seen few other references to it.

The Unge Akademikeres Kor (Young Academics' Choir) conducted by Niels Møller, recorded Benedic Domino, anima mea op.59a, Lauda, anima mea op.59c and Miserere mei op.61a for an LP in the Dansk Musik Antologi series, coupled with the organ work Fabula II (Deutsche Grammophon DMA 028).

There are several more recordings of Benedic Domino, anima mea op.59a, which seems to be the single most popular work from the set. Most of these are also readily available, at least for download. A performance by the Kammerkoret Camerata / Camerata Chamber Choir, conducted by Per Enevold, originally appeared on an LP of Danish Choral Works (BIS LP 102) before being issued on the disc featuring the Cello Concerto (BIS CD 78).

Another performance by the Copenhagen Concert Choir (Koncertforeningens Kor), conducted by Steen Lindholm, appears on a program with Sange mod Vårdybet (Songs Towards the Deep of Spring) plus works by other composers (Classico CLASSCD 289).

Another widely available version is by the Oslo Cathedral Choir, conducted by Terje Kvam, on Contemporary Church Music from Scandinavia (Simax PSC 1034).

Another version, probably much more difficult to obtain, is by the Jysk Akademisk Ungdomskor (Jutland Academic Youth Choir) conducted by Uffe Most. This appears on a collection of religious-themed music called Cantate Domino (OTR CD 1017).

Lauda, anima mea op.59c is performed by Swedish choir Voces Nordicae, conducted by Lone Larsen, on a collection called Nordic Voices (Footprint Records FRCD-007).

Domine, non superbit op.61c is, according to Rapaport's catalogue, performed by the Young Men's Christian Association Singers (KFUMs sangere) conducted by Jørgen Borg (Danica DLP 8101). However, I haven't been able to confirm any information about this recording.

Speravi in Domino op.61d is performed by Coro Misto, conducted by Søren Birch again, as part of a collection called Lokkende toner - Enchanting Music (Danacord DACOCD 546). The other Holmboe work on the disc is Jeg ved en urt så dejlig og bold (I know a plant so lovely and fine).

Beatus vir op.96a is performed by the Mikaeli Kammarkör (Michaelmas Chamber Choir), conducted by Anders Eby, on a Swedish LP called Mikaeli Kammarkör Sjunger Sakralt (Sings Sacred) (Proprius PROP 7770).

Laudate Dominum op.158b is performed by the Ballerup Kammerkor (Ballerup Chamber Choir), conducted by Frede V. Nielsen on what appears to have been a self-released CD called Deo Gratia (BKK 01). However, I haven't been able to find further information on this, even from the choir's website.

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