Sunday, December 9, 2007

In Review--Nordic Holiday Music from KKV

Aage Kvalbein & Iver Kleive
Julemeditasjoner (Christmas Meditations)

Kirkelig Kultverksted (KKV)

The Norwegian Girls Choir with Kari Bremnes

Julens Hjerte (The Heart of Christmas)


I received two Nordic holiday recordings, Christmas Meditations and The Heart of Christmas in the mail a few days ago. I wasn't sure that I would have much time to listen to them until I slipped a disc in my neck and had to rest for a couple of days. Fortunately, for me, the repertoire on both recordings lent itself well to relaxing. I have enjoyed the music too even though I normally do not listen to holiday music.

This year however is a little different because I moved to a small town which is currently decked for the holidays. We also experienced a bit of snow this morning and well, it kind of gets you in the mood. Cellist Aage Kvalbein pairs up with pianist Iver Kleive (two regulars on the KKV label) to bring us a collection of meditative holiday songs. The collection includes pieces by Vivaldi, and Schubert, some originals and traditional folk. All of the music is played in a low-key and somber style, except for a lilting version of Joy to the World. Certainly if you enjoy holiday music, you will want to add this gem to your collection.

The Norwegian Girls Choir, ranging in ages 10 to 12 years old sings both traditional and famous Christmas carols on their recording, The Heart of Christmas. The girls' soprano voices shimmer over strings and the folksinger Kari Bremnes lends her gorgeous vocals to a couple of the tracks (the liner notes on the CD do not match up with the press release). This CD also creates a meditative and reflective atmosphere, while featuring some famous carols sung in Norwegian.

It's okay to chill during the holiday season so grab a cup of hot chocolate, curl up and listen to reflective holiday music. You will be forgiven if you feel a bit sentimental.