Nordic voices for Victoria´s music

In 2017 was released the last álbum with Tomás Luis de Victoria´s musics untill now, Nordic Voices Sing Victoria.  From Tomás Luis de Victoria Research Center, we would like to dedicate to this recording by Nordic Vocies the space and broadcast that we think deserves.


Nordic Voices was created in 1996, with graduates from the Norwegian Academy of Opera and the Norwegian Academy of Music. From the begining of their work, one of the fundamental caracteristics of the vocal sextet was their hetereogeneus style and repertoire. While the recording that we are presenting its´s a collection of motets by the abulense composer, the grupe is used to sing choral music from many origins and using diferente kind of techniques as their identity sign. As they themselves explain on their website, on their presentations they don´t used to use historical pretexts to homogeneiz the concerts, but other kind of tematic inspirations as the literary, etc. wich let them create dialogues between diferente musics and propose new meanings. Also, the group it´s always trying to  research on choral singing field, experimenting with non common vocal techniques and different ways to presents themselves on the scene less convencional.


About their recordings, Nordic Voices has been printing their identity sign since 2002 with Sense and nonsense. On this first album, the norwegian sextet presents a mixture of musics apparently without conection, but with a deep meaning wich creates dialogues. Hellstenius (Norway, 1963), Monteverdi (Italy, 1567-1643), Petrassi (Italy, 1904-2003), Stenhammar (Sweeden, 18711-1927), Gabrieli (Italy, 1554/57-1612), Ligeti (Hungary, 1923-2006),and Poulenc (France, 1899-1963), are the composers who appears on this first discographical presentation letter.

In 2007 they edit an album with reinassance music by authors like Morales, Gombert, Guerrero or Manchicourt among others, leting very clear their intensions and their huge limits as interprets. The album´s name was Reges Terrae.

The next year appeared a new production by the group, Djånki Don, exclusevely with norwegian contemporary authors´s music only, and an expanded use of their voices with techniques wich moves away from the standar lyrical chant.

Again singins the reinassance composers´s musics, in 2009 appeared Lamentations, with pieces by Robert White, Gesualdo, Palestrina and Tomás Luís de Victoria, an album that gaves them different international awards.

In this way they have been alternating this two musical sources (the contemporay and the old one), continueing their production in 2012 with an album dedicated to Lasse Thoresen´s music (Norway, 1949), who takes inspiration in scandinavian folk roots to get pieces composed with contemporary techniques. Himmelkvad was the album´s name.


The next large production by the group was Nordic Voices Sing Victoria, in 2017. As we can apreciate, it fits in the alternancce and mixture of styles and sources that the group uses, takeing the old music by the abulense as the raw material of the CD. Concretely the album has a selection of motets, mainly from the two first Victoria´s collection edited in 1572 and 1576 in Venice, Motecta and Liber Primus qui Missas, Psalmos, ad Magnificat Virginem Dei Matrem Salutationes, both from his musical and religious activity period in Rome. This musics selection presents the main caracteristics from the context in wich they were composed: the counter-reformation.

In spite of the new rules established by the Church about the liturgical music, on motets the composers always had more freedom to asume risks and innovate. Victoria mixed with mastery the rules wich tried to find clarity to transmit the Gospel, with expressive means wich gave wings to the retoric, wich prevailing at the time, creating dialogues and semantic relations between the texts and the music he was carveing for them. It´s very claer in pieces like Vidi Speciosam, for example, from wich Nordic Voices gets a trully poem of sound.

Compositionally, imitative counterpoint was the rule on wich every piece was composed at that time, but Victoria knew how to used it in an expressive way, like in Ardens est cor meum, with fast voices wich follows one to another like those burning flames. On this edition, the norwegian sextet takes advantage and enhance all this caracteristics. In Tu es Petrus we can find another example of this brilliant use of the imitative counterpoint in Victoria, acording to the meaning of the text, and on this album, are sensitive by earing. In other pieces like O Domine Iesu Christe, Victoria uses some expressive disonances too, and also, as in every work, a very concient choice of the mode on wich hi was going to compose, acording to the feeling or emotion he wants to transmit from the text.

In Nordic Voices Sing Victoria is mesurable all this wealth from the composer, and It´s because it´s made sound, wich is a big succeed for interpretate and record old music: to get the audience from the XXI century to listen and percieve the things we know, by studing, are hidden on the paper from the XVI century.


In August 26th of 2016 we had the honour to have them in concert at our festival Abvulensis, in a performance called El pie en el estribo. The repertorie they choose for that encounter was very personal and asume all the eclecticism that characterizes them. A very interesting concert with a mixture of authors and times wich brought close to dialogue Victoria´s music with some of his spanihs contemporaries, other foreigners, and moderns authors too, singing in a non convencional way and useing diferent techniques of singing as the poliphonic singing or the overtones in some contemporary pieces. The theme selected for that musical journey was a contrast between the pain and the lamentation from the first part, and the consolation and the path to light on the second part. We presenced on that concert all Nordic Voices essence, singing their contemporaries and our reinassance composers, among many geographies and times in a very expressive mixture, shoking and new.


Nordic Voices Sing Victoria is the last album recorded with Tomás Luis de Victoria´s music, and it´s a great example of how can we raise, in music and sound, all the compositive mastery that was left by the abulense on paper. Expressivity, retoric, sense, espirituality and beauty as a single arrow that, as the professor Aguirre writes on the album´s programme (She makes part of the Tomás Luis de Victoria Reaearch Center), can move to whom is listening for more tan 400 years, and still.