I once tried to learn Danish, but found some of the sounds quite difficult….to say the least. I had no reason to learn Swedish, but imagined it to be very similar in looks and sound…..and no easier to learn!
On Saturday and Sunday, we had a visiting choir, the Gustavi Vocal Ensemble from Gothenburg Cathedral (picture above), joining us at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow. Only 12 in all, from the Swedish Cathedral Choir….but what a sound they made! Everything was sung a capella, with a simple chord from the piano, and they launched into a great variety of old and new pieces, ones familiar to our ears and some less so, from their native country.
Sometimes they formed-up in the conventional choral-part arrangement, and then for the next piece, would move about so that the parts seemed ‘mixed-up’. This meant that the sound seemed more ‘together’ and to come at us with a greater ‘gentleness’ for want of a better word. It is quite difficult to explain the sensation. We all know that some orchestral conductors have a particular way of arranging the various players to achieve the sound they want, but it was strange to see it applied in a choir during a performance.
Maybe it was the language, but even in the British pieces, there was a distinctive Nordic sound, and for me, it would take some time to assimilate into my psyche. It appeared much lighter in texture than what we hear in the cathedral, and this may have been partly due to the lack of accompaniment.
Having said that, it proved a marvellous experience of clear-crisp, disciplined, exposed singing and whilst a visit to their home town has never been in my top-ten wish list, I may well have to revise the list and have a long weekend to get the chance to hear the complete choir in action.