Henning Sommerro: Ujamaa & The Iceberg – Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and Choir/Ingar Heine Bergby, conductor,Lena Willemark, kulning and vocal, John Pål Inderberg, saxophones, Rik De Geyter, bass clarinet , Espen Aalberg, percussion , Eir Inderhaug, soprano, Florin Demit, baritone – 2L 2L-146-SABD (2 discs with multiple formats, including SACD, Blu-ray and FLAC/MQA for your servers or other playback devices (9/01/18) TT: 59:00 ****:

2L gives us 2 contemporary works from composer Henning Sommerro. These are two large-scale works for soloists and orchestra: Ujamaa and The Iceberg. Both are composed as cantatas. In Ujamaa we move, as if in a series of dream-pictures, between the world’s five continents. In The Iceberg interpersonal relationships are manifested through the voice of Eva Sars, wife of the explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanist and Nobel laureate Fridtjof Nansen. In these works there is a tension between large-scale and small-scale spheres – this in a background narrative in which hope is a steadfast element.

As usual with discs from 2L, the sound is impeccable. And as usual, 2L gives us multiple ways to consume and appreciate this music. I think it would be also fair to say we ‘interact’ with this music if we listen in the surround modes on offer.

2 discs are included in the jewel box. Disc one includes a hybrid CD and SACD combination. The SACD offers 5.1 DSD audio, stereo DSD, as well as the new MQA format if your equipment supports it. Disc 2 contains a Pure Audio Blu-ray with 2.0 LCPM audio at 192/24. It also offers a DTS HDMA 5.1 mix and 192/24, and a 7.1.4 Auro 3D mix at 96 kHz, and a Dolby Atmos mix at 48 kHz. If your computer has a proper disc drive to read it you can download MQA and MP3 versions of the music.

I listened to the 5.1 mix on the Blu-ray disc. It was a stunning recording of interesting contemporary music. It may not be an ‘easy’ listen for people looking for background music. The directionality and sometimes startling dissonances will command your attention. Although sometimes lovely and delicate, at times the music is avant-garde in the fullest sense.

On balance I liked the music and the sound was a realistic as I could ever hope to hear from my moderately high end system. Strings are realistic, the brass have a realistic punch, and the deepest bass is there to rattle your windows.

So if your taste runs to very modern contemporary music, and you have a multi-channel setup you really should hear this disc. It benefits from multiple listening sessions and it tended to grow on me.

I’d also recommend listening on good headphones. You’ll lose the multi channel sound, but gain in increased definition.

—Mel Martin