KVERNO: Credo – A Composer Portrait of Trond H.F. Kverno – Bergen Cathedral Choir/ Arnfinn Tobiassen, organ – LAWO

KVERNO: Credo – A Composer Portrait of Trond H.F. Kverno – Bergen Cathedral Choir/ Arnfinn Tobiassen, organ – LAWO multichannel SACD (5.0) LWC1091 (11/13/15) [Dist. by Naxos] ****:

Inspiring and ethereal music by Norwegian composer Trond Kverno.

The new SACD/CD from Bergen Cathedral Choir and organist Arnfinn Tobiassen is a tribute to Norwegian contemporary composer Trond H.F. Kverno on his 70th birthday. The listener is introduced to both his choral work, as well as his works inspired by medieval ballads and Norwegian folklore. The works on this disc were composed in the 1970s through 2004.

Most of the selections on this disc are based on Norwegian folklore. Some of the pieces are instrumental, and feature some powerful organ playing by Tobiassen. Some are choral works that are ethereal and beautiful. Translations are provided in the informative liner notes.

Bergen is such a stunning and uplifting city, it’s not surprising to hear such inspiring music from musicians with ties to the locale. If you haven’t been there, search the web for some photos.

Most of our readers, including me, won’t be familiar with Kverno’s music, but that’s not an excuse to fail to pick up this disc and give it a listen. The music has a sense of ancient mystery, yet the compositions are clearly contemporary. His choral music is not in the category of modernists like Ligeti, but an interesting blend of the traditional with Kverno’s own unique style.

The recording, which was done at the lovely Bergen Cathedral is really stunning. In surround, we experience the lovely acoustics, with the slow decay of each note. The frequency spectrum is very wide, with shimmering highs to the lowest organ pedals. The image of the chorus has some directionality, but this is a large and reverberant hall, so the effect is lovely realism. The recording engineers and producers have done a superb job. While browsing the internet, find some photos of the recording venue and its imposing Orgelbau organ.

Lawo recordings are always superb, but on this disc they’ve married their audio expertise to some transcendent music, very well-played and sung.

After I concluded my listening sessions for note-taking for the review, I found myself putting on the disc over and over to experience Kverno’s music in a more relaxed atmosphere. I can’t recommend this disc enough. Sit in a darkened room if you can, and enjoy this inspiring and numinous music.

TrackList:

1. KVERNO: Intrada over en norsk langeleiklåt
2. Canticum Zachariae
3. Toccata over Herre Gud, ditt dyre navn og ære
4. Stabat Mater Dolorosa
5. Agnus Dei
6. Salve Regina
7. Triptychon II
8. Tre Folketonefantasier
9. Symbolum Nicaenum

—Mel Martin

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