Your browser does not support our new site design, so some things might not display or function properly.
We suggest upgrading to Google Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer 9+ for the optimal experience.

Lumen Valo

Gravity (2001)

4.7

December 7, 2002

Tuning / Blend 4.7
Energy / Intensity 4.3
Innovation / Creativity 4.0
Soloists 4.7
Sound / Production 4.3
Repeat Listenability 3.7
Tracks
1 My love dwelt in a northern land (Edward Elgar 1857-1934 (Andrew Lang)) 5.0
2 Fantaisies Décoratives I, Le Panneau - The Panel (Juhani Komulainen 1953- (Oscar Wilde)) 5.0
3 Rest (Ralph Vaughan Williams 1872-1958 (Christina Rossetti)) 5.0
4 My spirit sang all day (Gerald Finzi 1901-56 (Robert Bridges)) 4.7
5 Death on the hills (Edward Elgar (A.N.Maikov, transl. Rosa Newmarch)) 4.7
6 I praise the tender flower (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 4.7
7 Sir Patrick Spens (Robert Pearsall 1795-1856) 5.0
8 Clear and gentle stream (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 4.7
9 Summer is gone (Samuel Coleridge-Taylor 1875-1912 (Christina Rossetti)) 4.7
10 Nightingales (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 4.7
11 Serenade (Edward Elgar (N.M.Minsky, transl. R.Newmarch)) 4.7
12 Lay a garland (Robert Pearsall (F.Beaumont, J.Fletcher)) 5.0
13 Fantaisies Décoratives II, Les Ballons - The Balloons (Juhani Komulainen (Oscar Wilde)) 4.7
14 The Blue Bird (Charles Villiers Stanford 1852-1924 (Mary Coleridge)) 5.0
15 Three Romances (Olli Kortekangas 1955- (D.H.Lawrence)) 4.7
16 Music, when soft voices die (Hubert Parry 1848-1918 (Percy Bysshe Shelley)) 5.0

Recorded 2001
Total time: 58:11, 16 songs


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 My love dwelt in a northern land (Edward Elgar 1857-1934 (Andrew Lang)) 5
2 Fantaisies Décoratives I, Le Panneau - The Panel (Juhani Komulainen 1953- (Oscar Wilde)) 5
3 Rest (Ralph Vaughan Williams 1872-1958 (Christina Rossetti)) 5
4 My spirit sang all day (Gerald Finzi 1901-56 (Robert Bridges)) 5
5 Death on the hills (Edward Elgar (A.N.Maikov, transl. Rosa Newmarch)) 5
6 I praise the tender flower (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 5
7 Sir Patrick Spens (Robert Pearsall 1795-1856) 5
8 Clear and gentle stream (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 5
9 Summer is gone (Samuel Coleridge-Taylor 1875-1912 (Christina Rossetti)) 5
10 Nightingales (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 5
11 Serenade (Edward Elgar (N.M.Minsky, transl. R.Newmarch)) 5
12 Lay a garland (Robert Pearsall (F.Beaumont, J.Fletcher)) 5
13 Fantaisies Décoratives II, Les Ballons - The Balloons (Juhani Komulainen (Oscar Wilde)) 5
14 The Blue Bird (Charles Villiers Stanford 1852-1924 (Mary Coleridge)) 5
15 Three Romances (Olli Kortekangas 1955- (D.H.Lawrence)) 5
16 Music, when soft voices die (Hubert Parry 1848-1918 (Percy Bysshe Shelley)) 5

Gravity is an intriguing, difficult, and ultimately moving recording from the Finnish vocal ensemble Lumen Valo. Most of the selections are more-or-less contemporary settings of modern or Romantic poetry and other texts (Wilde, Shelley, Coleridge, Williams). Two pieces are premiere recordings of works commissioned for the group. In all cases, the singers bring fine blend and a delicate touch to their material.

In contrast to the album's title, the overall effect of the texts in their settings, combined with the singers' sensitive approach, is ethereal and evocative, both of the church in which the recording took place, and of a lingering disquiet. Dissonance seems appropriate for the texts sung here, and the singers bring a note of some small trepidation. The album feels as if there is something slightly uneasy at stake beneath the beauty.

All of the tracks are excellent, favorites hard to pick. I like I praise the tender flower for its legato sway, iconic perhaps of dewy stamens; the second commissioned piece, Les Ballons, with its repeated deft juxtaposition and daring swerve of high and middle voices; and the final track, Music, when soft voices die, whose brevity and almost regretful tone seem to sum up the feel of the album as a whole.

Lumen Valo is a group of accomplished singers, practiced and deft with their material, at home in music of startling complexity and emotional depth. Perhaps that is where the Gravity of the title is to be found: in the rock-solid classical core which these singers form beneath the music's lighter flights of fancy. All told, a wonderful recording.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 My love dwelt in a northern land (Edward Elgar 1857-1934 (Andrew Lang)) 5
2 Fantaisies Décoratives I, Le Panneau - The Panel (Juhani Komulainen 1953- (Oscar Wilde)) 5
3 Rest (Ralph Vaughan Williams 1872-1958 (Christina Rossetti)) 5
4 My spirit sang all day (Gerald Finzi 1901-56 (Robert Bridges)) 4
5 Death on the hills (Edward Elgar (A.N.Maikov, transl. Rosa Newmarch)) 4
6 I praise the tender flower (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 4
7 Sir Patrick Spens (Robert Pearsall 1795-1856) 5
8 Clear and gentle stream (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 4
9 Summer is gone (Samuel Coleridge-Taylor 1875-1912 (Christina Rossetti)) 5
10 Nightingales (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 4
11 Serenade (Edward Elgar (N.M.Minsky, transl. R.Newmarch)) 4
12 Lay a garland (Robert Pearsall (F.Beaumont, J.Fletcher)) 5
13 Fantaisies Décoratives II, Les Ballons - The Balloons (Juhani Komulainen (Oscar Wilde)) 5
14 The Blue Bird (Charles Villiers Stanford 1852-1924 (Mary Coleridge)) 5
15 Three Romances (Olli Kortekangas 1955- (D.H.Lawrence)) 4
16 Music, when soft voices die (Hubert Parry 1848-1918 (Percy Bysshe Shelley)) 5

A lot of good things jumped out at me when I listened to Gravity by Lumen Valo. The most impressive thing that I found was their ability to record a small choral ensemble album in a live hall. This album, recorded in Riihimaki Garrison Church in Finland, captures the sound of their group without allowing the natural acoustics of the hall to alter the final product negatively. I was very impressed with this excellent display of recording and engineering.

The cover artwork on the album is also top notch. I loved the plethora of information provided in the liner notes and the overall look and feel of this release. Now, let's move on to the music.

Vocally, it's hard to say anything negative about this ensemble. Dynamics and blend were particularly good on many of the tracks. Moments like the ending of Rest, where they sing "when she wakes, she will not think it long" were, in one word, luscious. Their ability to balance and blend to each other from the softest piano to the loudest fortissimo kept my jaw firmly on the ground.

This music truly relaxes you. It's so well sung that you can just let it drift into the background and be at peace with whatever you're doing while it's playing. The singers in this ensemble are obviously very accomplished and should be commended for their enormous vocal abilities.

The biggest drawback to an album like this for me is this isn't the kind of music I listen to for enjoyment, so I probably don't appreciate this album as wholly as someone else might. If Renaissance music is your bag, baby, then you won't find a better album out there to enjoy.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 My love dwelt in a northern land (Edward Elgar 1857-1934 (Andrew Lang)) 5
2 Fantaisies Décoratives I, Le Panneau - The Panel (Juhani Komulainen 1953- (Oscar Wilde)) 5
3 Rest (Ralph Vaughan Williams 1872-1958 (Christina Rossetti)) 5
4 My spirit sang all day (Gerald Finzi 1901-56 (Robert Bridges)) 5
5 Death on the hills (Edward Elgar (A.N.Maikov, transl. Rosa Newmarch)) 5
6 I praise the tender flower (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 5
7 Sir Patrick Spens (Robert Pearsall 1795-1856) 5
8 Clear and gentle stream (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 5
9 Summer is gone (Samuel Coleridge-Taylor 1875-1912 (Christina Rossetti)) 4
10 Nightingales (Gerald Finzi (Robert Bridges)) 5
11 Serenade (Edward Elgar (N.M.Minsky, transl. R.Newmarch)) 5
12 Lay a garland (Robert Pearsall (F.Beaumont, J.Fletcher)) 5
13 Fantaisies Décoratives II, Les Ballons - The Balloons (Juhani Komulainen (Oscar Wilde)) 4
14 The Blue Bird (Charles Villiers Stanford 1852-1924 (Mary Coleridge)) 5
15 Three Romances (Olli Kortekangas 1955- (D.H.Lawrence)) 5
16 Music, when soft voices die (Hubert Parry 1848-1918 (Percy Bysshe Shelley)) 5

Finally! With Lumen Valo, we have a vocal ensemble from a foreign country (Finland) that includes an English translation of everything on their CD (lyrics, group information, etc.). The artwork is elegant and the album's packaging is quite unique. Instead of the standard jewel case, there are two cardboard flaps that open, and one of them has a pocket for the booklet. By the way, the music on Gravity is simply beautiful.

Admittedly, this is not the type of music I regularly listen to, but its beauty is undeniable. Even an ear unfamiliar with Renaissance-era polyphonic vocal music can appreciate that beauty. Lumen Valo's arrangements are deceptively simple, and the group's blend and pitch are impeccable. Their dynamics are excellent, and my only tiny complaints are a few moments where their cutoffs were not entirely in sync — the ending "s" or "n" or "t" didn't happen at the same time. But this is minor and hardly noticeable.

The songs are sung in English, and the group easily soars together through difficult chord progressions without a break in blend or waver in tone. The album was recorded live in a church, which provides a perfect match for Lumen Valo's music.

If you have an appreciation for classical vocal music, Gravity is the perfect purchase. You will not be disappointed.

Advertisement

How To Get Your Work Reviewed

To have your album (2 or more tracks) reviewed by RARB, please email us with your name, group name and album title. You will receive a response with information on how to register your album in our system.

To have your digital single reviewed by RARB, please fill out our online singles registration form.

×

Ordering Information

For ordering info, search for "Lumen Valo" at www.fuga.fi.

×