Audiens = Works of WHITACRE, DYRUD, CHRISTOPHERSEN, LAURIDSEN, REHNQVIST – Schola Cantorum/Nordic Voices/Tone Bianca Dahl – 2L

by | Feb 5, 2010 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Audiens = WHITACRE: Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine; Winter Night; DYRUD: Her friend she’ll soon be kissing ‘mongst the roses; CHRISTOPHERSEN: A Just-finishing Candle; Audience—it’s really not always easy to be Pope; The host of the establishment; Rebirth; LAURIDSEN: Se Per Havervi, Oime; REHNQVIST: You have only to walk across the meadow – Schola Cantorum/ Nordic Voices/ Are Sandbakken, viola/ Tone Bianca Dahl, conductor – 2L multichannel SACD 61, 56:35 *****:

This is hands-down one of the most spectacular-sounding choral SACDs I have ever heard; the sound is vibrant, palpable, beautifully balanced, and thrilling. This would all go for naught if the music was bad, but it is anything but. It concentrates on compositions by Nordic composers with a pepper-grain of Americana, and each work is stimulating and gorgeously conceived.

Most of the album focuses on 34-year-old composer and Schola Cantorum member Bjorn Morten Christophersen, who contributes four selections here, including the title track. All of the works on this disc would take more commentary than I have space for, and that would amount to repeating the booklet notes, so I’ll spare you that. Suffice it to say that Christophersen, who has worked in television and film, writes in a highly accessible manner, not so much content with presenting an alluring choral work as in telling the story of the texts in as vivid and descriptive a manner as he can. There isn’t one dull moment in any of his compositions, and his efforts here bode brightly for the future of Norwegian music and choral music generally.

Morten Lauridsen’s name inspires choral music aficionados the world over, and with very good reason; his lively heartstring tuggings are profound in their simplicity and complex in their emotive prowess. Se, Per Haverve, Oime comes from the collection Madrigali: Six ‘Fire Songs’ on Italian Renaissance Poems and is a delight. Eric Whitacre has taken the American world by somewhat of a storm, as this 40-year-old composer churns out one hit after another. Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine is a piece about dreaming to fly, and fly this work does in bundles of excitement. Winter Night is this composer’s first standout on the international scene and has been performed and recorded many times. Its four minutes are shimmering luscious excursions into the unapologetically tonal.

Karin Rehnqvist (b. 1957) wrote You have only to walk across the meadow as a simple homophonic love song, whose title suggests nothing else. Torbjorn Dyrud (b. 1974) penned Her friend she’ll soon be kissing ‘mongst the roses for the Norwegian Youth Choir. The work is a setting of a poem called “The Prophet” by Inger Hagerup, and is perhaps the thorniest piece on the disc, though its prickliness is mitigated to a large extent by the cleverness and expressiveness of the writing. Judgment Day prophecies are effectively cut short by the sight of a young girl on the way to meet her beloved, and the prophet realizes the futility of his remonstrance when confronted with such love—uplifting indeed.

The Norwegian music scene, for all its beauties, has also been the landscape of some of the severest avant-garde music today, and 2L has produced some of this. I am glad to see the other side of the tablet and hope they continue in this vein. Easily and gladly recommended.

— Steven Ritter       

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