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MUSIC REVIEW

Ericson Choir Is Model of Musical Unity

March 11, 1997|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In the field of choral music, Sweden's Eric Ericson is a great hero, both by musical deed and legacy, having begun his work more than 50 years ago, in 1946. Ericson's Chamber Choir finished off a U.S. tour on Sunday with concerts at Glendale's Alex Theater, sponsored by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. As heard in the afternoon concert, this is a dream ensemble, a model of musical unity and group sonority.

The program here, though bolstered with the venerable sounds of Bach and romantic, pre-12-tone Schoenberg, was no conservative sampling, as indicated by the dynamic opening piece, by the young Swede Anders Hillborg. His unpronounceable piece "muocaaeyiywcoum" is a powerfully evocative, text-less celebration of vocal texture, coming across like a softly shimmering and slowly changing sonic mist.

Swedish composer Ingvar Lidholm, whose music Ericson performed in his first season half a century ago, was represented by " . . . a riveder le stelle," a coloristic vocal essay based on text from Dante. At the end, the lovely toned soprano Jeanette Kohn placed wordless, mellifluous melodies at mysterious angles to the droning chords.

Throughout, the choir rose admirably to its challenges, including, in the second half, the contrapuntal weave of Bach's "Komm, Jesu, komm" and the yearning romantic landscape of Schoenberg's 1907 "Friede auf Erden." True to the choral ideal, multiple voices meshed as one.

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