NILS HENRIK ASHEIM (b.1960): Muohta - Language of Snow for Choir and String Orchestra (Ensemble Allegria), LARS PETTER HAGEN (b.1975): Lament for Choir, Electronics and Percussion (Hans-Kristian Kjos Sørensen [percussion]), ARNE NORDHEIM (1931-2010): Aurora for Soloists, Chorus, 2 Percussion Groups and Electronic Sounds (Daniel Paulsen, Terje Viken [percussion]).

Catalogue Number: 08W053

Label: BIS

Reference: 2431

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $19.98

Description: Three contrasting, modernist but accessible, approaches to fusing words and music, using the sounds of the words as music, the better to illuminate their meaning. Hagen's Lament is less experimental than the works on the previous disc we offered (11P083); here the words of a poem by e.e.cummings are stretched out and rendered unintelligible as they slowly progress in pulsating waves. The piece, divided into two slow sections with a short, more demonstrative interlude between, is a calm, poignant expression of deep grief, the percussion and electronics subtly adding tonal, sonorous depth to the choral textures. The title of Asheim's work is the Sámi word for 'snow', and each of its eighteen brief movements sets a single word in the Sámi language, all related to snow. The work follows a definite dramatic arc, the early sections smooth, consonant and descriptive of soft, rolling drifts of snow and silent, muffled images of snowfall. Later movements take on a more disturbed aspect, as though protesting the retreat of the wintry landscape with which the Sámi people had lived in harmony for so long, as a result of climate change and modern exploitation of nature. The final, serene, movement offers hope in a return to the unspoiled landscape of the opening. Nordheim's Aurora (1984) is the most complex and 'modern' of these works, but also the most expressively rich and generous. It sets extracts from Psalm 139, in which the psalmist celebrates God's benign, complete knowledge of his soul, and Dante’s Paradiso, wherein Dante turns his face to God. Tonality and consonance had re-entered Nordheim's vocabulary by this stage in his constantly evolving musical language, and the piece - significantly, in memory of Cathy Berberian - abounds in rich choral textures, magically illuminated by bells and transported into ethereally beautiful heavenly regions by the glowing sonorities of the tape part. Texts and English translations included. Norwegian Soloists’ Choir; Grete Pedersen.


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