Immortal Nystedt - Ensemble96
Classical - Vocal
Nystedt: Surrounded by the Wonders of Creation
Øystein Fevang (conductor)
mmortal NYSTEDT [1915 – ] – Surrounded by the Wonders of CreationEnsemble 96 cond. Øystein Fevang The beginning of the universe and the drama at Golgatha; medieval music and German baroque; the writings of Søren Kierkegaard – and a child’s baptism in Oslo in 1987. Knut Nystedt draws his inspiration from all ages, creating his monumental choral art with a Christian perspective and wide, humanistic appeal.
Review by John Broggio - March 10, 2007
This is a compilation of Knut Nystedt's more recent choral works which were composed between 1988 and 2003 - all are for mixed choir except where otherwise noted.
For those that are unfamiliar with Nystedt; work, this is an ideal starting point for someone to sample modern choral music that combines the elegance and beauty of Bach and Palestrina with some more modern techniques and textures - it is not in the least "frightening". The disc opens with Prayers of Kierkegaard - 6 short settings of Kierkegaard's musings on Biblical texts. Somewhat incredibly the settings, commissioned by The Norwegian Soloists' Choir in 1999, are in (very good) English. The clarity of the performance and recording means that the inclusion of the texts are unnecessary - it is not often one can claim this but it should be!
Next up is Salve Regina, a short piece for male choir, again composed in 1999. Based on a medieval antiphon, the piece is sung in Latin and again the diction is superb from Ensemble 96 under Øystein Fevang. Returning to English, The Word Became Flesh was composed in 2001 for an American commission; here the choir is subdivided between 8 and 13 parts in the style of the old Renaissance masters.
"Nytt er livet" dates from 2003 and is performed by the commissioners, the Bærum Vokalensemble, a female choir singing texts written for the Millennium in 4 short movements. The more substantial “Jesu sieben Worte” also dates from 2003 and is also performed by those who commissioned the work; it is heartening for such a young ensemble to be so committed to commissioning, performing and recording modern music that is also accessible to more than dedicated followers of the avant garde.
Closing the disc is the exceptional Immortal Bach from 1988 – even if Nystedt is remembered only for this work, the world shall be grateful. The transfiguring of Bach’s choral “Komm, süsser Tod” provides for the most extraordinary sounds in a most hypnotic way – strongly recommended and hard not to repeat almost incessantly to capture the many delicacies within this incredible but short work (just shy of 4 minutes). This is the one piece that was designed for a performance “in the round” and 2L give us this which opens up the piece to far greater enjoyment than would be possible in stereo.
The performances of all works are exceptional in their refined tone and quality of phrasing that leads the ear not just within each piece but also between the works. It is a disc that provides balm to the soul. The voices are recorded in a church but the sound is not the stony resonance that many will expect – not that it is dry but I suspect that the microphones were placed a good deal closer than would usually be the case in choral music. Because of this, the diction is exceptionally clear and the presence is miraculous. Some here might baulk at the recording originating from a 24bit 48kHz source but there are no qualms in this listeners ears about sound hindering the quality of the musicianship on display.
Copyright © 2007 John Broggio and HRAudio.net