As Dreams – Music by JANSON, LACHENMANN, NØGÄRD, XENAKIS & SAARIANO – Norwegian Soloists Choir /Grete Pedersen – BIS

As Dreams –  Music by JANSON, LACHENMANN, NØGÄRD, XENAKIS & SAARIANO – Norwegian Soloists Choir /artistic director Grete Pedersen – BIS multichannel SACD BIS2139, TT: 61:00 10/28/16 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

Contemporary music representing dreams.

This is an interesting and compelling disc from BIS and the Norwegian Soloists Choir and its artistic director Grete Pedersen. With a theme of ‘dreams’, the disc gives us a sampling of music that suggests a dreamlike quality.

With music from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Germany and Greece, and texts ranging from fragments of ancient Assyrian and Sumerian (in Xenakiss Nuits) and the 8th-century Wessobrunner Prayer (Lachenmann) to poems by Balzac (Saariaho), Nietzsche (Janson) and Rilke (Nørgård), the music is all very different, but all adhere to the theme of the disc. The presentation includes musicians from Oslo Sinfonietta in the accompanied works, which include Nørgårds Singe die Gärten for eight-part choir and 8 instruments and Jansons Nocturne for double choir, 2 cellos, harp and 2 percussionists. In life, as on this disc, dreams can be good dreams or bad, and this program gives us the variety of nocturnal experiences. It’s not all ethereal and wistful, but like real dreams, sometimes upsetting and dramatic.

The performances are very good, and there wasn’t anything in this collection I had heard before.  These are challenging and difficult works to perform but it all seemed flawless to me. The music is contemporary, so fans of modern music will enjoy the journey. More traditional listeners may also find this inventive program enjoyable.

The recording is nicely matched to the subject matter. Voices appear to float in a large ambient hall, and the percussion instruments are very realistic and blend nicely with the voices. I did not detect primary sounds originating in the surround speakers, but at times the voices seemed to extend halfway between my front speakers and the surrounds.

TrackList:
Janson, A: Nocturne
Lachenmann: Consolation II (Wessobrunner Gebet)
Nørgård: Drommesang Singe die Gärten
Xenakis: Nuits
Saariaho: Überzeugung Nuits, adieux

—Mel Martin

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