- The Snow It Melts the Soonest
- The Fruit of Silence, for chorus (or chorus & piano)
- In the Bleak Midwinter, for chorus (after G. Holst)
- Come Wander with Me, song
- Balulalow, for chorus
- Winter, for chorus, violin, cello & celeste
- Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen, for chorus
- Ólafur Arnalds on "For Now I Am Winter"
This seasonal release is only occasionally connected with Christmas, and it's notable and, probably for many listeners, desirable for that reason alone. The subject is winter itself, as seen in stark Nordic landscapes and reflected, presumably, in the music composed within them. That often means the Baltic countries, where holy minimalism rules these days. The Estonian giant of the style, Arvo Pärt, is here, but a bigger presence is Latvia's Peteris Vasks, whose music is becoming more widely known. The English ensemble Voces8, in fact, has pointed to his music as the inspiration for this collection. So start by sampling the aptly titled "Plainscapes," where the choir is accompanied by violin and cello. Compared with Pärt, the music is not so affectless, but it has the same kind of clean restraint. Minimalist composers are usually grouped together on recordings, but part of the aim of Voces8 here seems to be to create a program that links Baltic minimalism to other sparse modern styles. The results are interesting if rather subtle: what you hold in your hands or on your screen is an hour-plus of slow-moving music of homogeneous texture and sound, but the colors do shift as the program proceeds. There is one world premiere, Rebecca Dale's "Winter," and most of the pieces aren't terribly common. The lack of texts is a minus, discouraging deeper engagement with the music and giving the impression that the album is intended as background music, when there's actually more to it than that.