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CHAN 10320
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CHAN 10320
Wisdom and Folly and other Choral Works

Holten: Wisdom and Folly and other Choral Works

The Classical Shop
release date: June 2005

Originally recorded in 2004


Bo Holten

Jesper Juul Sørensen


Danish National Symphony Choir

Danish National Symphony Girls Choir


Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen


Ivar Munk

(Tallis Variations, Psalm 104, Ego flos campi)

Chris Hazell

(other works)


Jorn Jacobsen

Record Label



Total Time - 59:48
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Wisdom and Folly and other Choral Works



(b. 1948)
Select Complete Single Disc for
premiere recording

Tallis Variations (1976)

  for mixed choir and nine solo strings  
  Strings of Danish National Symphony Orchestra/DR  
premiere recording

Visdom og Galskab (1993)

  Wisdom and Folly  
  Three movements to texts from the Old Testament for soprano solo and mixed choir  
  Klaudia Kidon soprano  
2 I Ordsprogenes Bog 2:38
3 II Højsangen 4:32
4 III Klagesangene 5:59
premiere recording

Psalm 104 'Hvor er dine værker mange, Herre!' (2002)†

  for women's choir  
premiere recording

Ego flos campi (2001)

  for women's choir  
premiere recording

Ebbe Skammelsøn (2001)

  A dramatic scene after the old ballad for trombone solo, twelve soloists and mixed choir  
 Jesper Juul Sørensen trombone
  premiere recording in Icelandic  

First Snow (1996)

8 Fyrsti Snjór 4:00
  for eight-part choir  
9 Fjallid Einbúi 2:10
  for four soloists and four-part choir  
premiere recording

Triumf att finnas till (1995)

  Triumph to exist  
  for eight-part choir  
It would be hard to find a composer and conductor better versed in vocal music than Bo Holten. He has worked with several of the best choirs and vocal ensembles in Europe and founded two vocal groups himself – Ars Nova and Musica Ficta. His œuvre includes no fewer than five operas. Through his conducting and composition he has come across many different ways of ensemble singing and many types of voice production. The breadth of his experience is apparent in the diversity of techniques explored in these hauntingly original works, all but one dating from the last twelve years.

In his native Denmark Bo Holten is well known both as a conductor and composer. He has an international reputation as a leading specialist in early music, especially in vocal polyphony. He has been a regular guest conductor with many internationally renowned ensembles, including the BBC Singers, with whom he works on a regular basis. His output contains over 100 works including five operas, two symphonies, four concertos and two musicals as well as songs, chamber music and many film and TV scores.

All works here receive their premiere recording (First Snow here recorded for the first time sung in Icelandic, the poet’s native language.)

All three texts for Wisdom and Folly (1993) come from the Old Testament.The first, from the Book of Proverbs, describes different animals and their strange habits. The whole thing has an air of the grotesque, and it is hard to understand what it all really means. The second is one of the loveliest passages from the Song of Songs, set as a long soprano solo describing sensual love. The third is from the Lamentations, describing the terrible evils of war and devastation. The Psalm 104 (2002) and Ego flos Campi (2001) are rather straightforward madragalian settings of the biblical texts. The Latin piece features truly polyphonic music whereas the psalm is more homophonic and dramatic. Ebbe Skammelsøn tells the story of one of the most famous characters of Danish folklore, whose brother steals his girlfriend while he is away serving his king. As befits the ethos of the time, Ebbe’s revenge is bloody and cruel. Bo Holten’s work is based on the tune and plot of the mediaeval Danish folksong and treats the material in an almost operatic way, thus creating what could be called a dramatic scene for several soloists and choir. The texts for First Snow (1996) are by the Icelandic /Canadian poet Stephan G. Stephansson. The first movement depicts the first snowfall, and how the snow then melts, and the water evaporates and drifts upwards, where it again turns into snow. The second movement depicts an immutable granite mountain, with soloists who in a more fragmented style describe the fleeting energies of weather and flora unable to overwhelm the soaring peak. The text for Triumf att finnas till (Triumph to exist) (1995) was written by the Nietzsche-influenced poet Edith Södergran. In music that is almost Delian Holten has captured the poet’s ecstatic description of standing alone under the sun, being part of the cosmos, and feeling eternity flowing through the veins.

…a most rewarding and beautifully engineered recital overall
International Record Review

The grandiose (and technically challenging) setting of Edith Södergran’s ‘Triumf att finnas till’ provides a fitting conclusion to this accomplished, varied and magnificently sung collection.

M Monk

N Jarvi