Review by larsmusik January 12, 2010 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
|This is a phenomenal disc. As editor of a review column for a professional music monthly, I get the chance to sample dozens of recordings every month, most of them choral music. Something like "Audiens" only crosses my desk once every four or five years. First of all, the groups -- Schola Cantorum (students from the Dept. of Musicology, University of Oslo, Norway) and Nordic Voices (six-voice professional group, also Norwegian) -- are simply superb. Impeccable intonation, vocal blend, and precision. Secondly, the repertoire they've chosen reflects their special talents extremely well. Aside from some modern staples by Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen, all the music is by young Norwegian composers.
This is NOT a recipe for bland uniformity! The music, especially that of the composer who dominates the disc, Bjorn Morten Christophersen (b. 1976), is vivid, varied, and deeply expressive. An extended work, "Audiens" for the combined forces of Schola Cantorum and Nordic Voices, is the standout piece. Set to excerpts from Gro Dahle's longer collection, it is witty, surreal, and often touching. According to Christophersen: "Dahle has created a fantastical universe in which the Pope himself seeks the advice and friendship of the birds and a dog.... I have tried to reflect Dahle's weird and wonderful universe by weaving together lively textures, puns, sad short passages and a solid helping of church music cliches."
Also outstanding are Christophersen's "Gjenfodelsen" (Rebirth) on a text by Edvard Munch (yes, that Edvard Munch) with violist Are Sandbakken and the disc's opener, "Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine" by Eric Whitacre. Choral music buffs will know this latter work well already -- Whitacre is an enormously popular young composer for choirs, and this has been out there since 2001. It's a gas -- to snippets of Da Vinci's own writing plus reflections by poet Charles Anthony Silvestri, Whitacre cobbles together a post-modern madrigal that samples, besides the obvious allusions to 16th-century secular polyphony, style-snatches from Ives, Vivaldi, Ligeti and beyond (no spoilers here) to create a musical imaginary universe just as diverse, bubbly, and unkempt as Leonardo's own.
Producer Morten Lindberg and his crew have done it again. A lovely, realistic, detailed recording that does full justice to the wonderful music it captures.
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