KLEIBERG :  Mass for Modern Man – Mari Eriksmoen (sop) / Johannes Weisser (bar) / Trondheim SO & Choir / Eivind Gullberg Jensen – Pure Audio Blu-ray 2L

KLEIBERG :  Mass for Modern Man – Mari Eriksmoen (sop) / Johannes Weisser (bar) / Trondheim SO & Choir / Eivind Gullberg Jensen – Pure Audio Blu-ray – 5.1 surround + stereo + mShuttle / 9.1 Auro-3D + 11.1 Dolby Atmos 48kHz / SACD multichannel and stereo;  2L-136SABD –  TT: 67:59 ea. (2 discs) [Distr. by Naxos] *****:

A gripping new work for our time served with excellent sonics

Ståle Kleiberg (b. 1958) is one of Norway’s most distinguished composers. He has written a good deal of music, much of it as the result of a commission, and performances are given around the world.

An earlier work, Requiem – for the Victims of Nazi Persecution,  also commissioned by Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, had it US premiere in the National Cathedral in Washington and its recording appeared on Simax on SACD.  The Mass for Modern Man succeeds other 2L recordings, Mezzotint, a collection of chamber works, Treble and Bass, concertos for violin and double-bass, and Kleiberg’s opera-oratorio, David and Bathsheba.

As with the Requiem, Kleiberg includes among the traditional Latin texts of the Mass fresh literature to emphasise the contemporary nature of the work.  In this case, between the Kyrie eleison, Gloria, Credo and Sanctus, sung by the choir, we are given three large movements dealing with some of the problems faced by so many today, using texts by Jessica Gordon commissioned for this work – Loss of a Homeland – The Refugee, Loss of a Child and Loss of Faith and Hope for the Future. These are sung by the soloists and underscore the traditional Latin texts, and the message at the end is one of hope, yet not without the realisation that the journey will be hard.  As Kleiberg points out in his essay included in the booklet,  a conflict of emotions exists between The Refugee and Loss of a Child with the Gloria and Credo following.  He writes: ‘When a movement about the loss of a child is followed by a Credo, it cannot be a clear and unambiguous Credo, but a hesitant one.’

Kleiberg’s music seems to me to have the flavour of the post-Impressionist, post-Duruflé, for example, an extension of very late Romanticism, included with his own distinctive use of more modern and highly effective aspects of tonality.  As with Kleiberg’s earlier Requiem, and, for example, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, the juxtaposition of familiar and traditional texts with the new, is both effective, each raising the value of the other.   The two fine soloists, soprano, Mari Eriksmoen, and baritone, Johannes Weisser communicate Jessica Gordon’s words with great sensitivity.  The excellent Trondheim Choir and Trondheim Orchestra are on top form conducted by the very able Eivind Gullberg-Jensen.

Morten Lindberg’s fine sound is up to the usual 2L house standard, in other words, it continues to set the bar for sonic quality.  The sense of realism without hi-fi gimmicks can only enhance listening pleasure, blu-ray and SACD equally excellent.  The very slightly warmer fingerprint from SACD perhaps suits the content well.

This new work written for our time has impressed greatly.

—Peter Joelson

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