Mezzotints: Chamber Music by Stale Kleiberg (2015)

Kleiberg

Stale Kleiberg

Since the early twentieth century there has been a radical renewal of pedigreed chamber genres. We need only think of the late sonatas of Debussy, or of the string quartets of Bartók; or, to enter a high modernist space later in the century, of the duos and quartets of Elliott Carter; or, to move into a less prescriptive space that some like to label postmodern, of Ståle Kleiberg in our own time.

In the solo and chamber works recorded here, Kleiberg recaptures something of the ethos of the private sphere. The solo works have an inward character, occluding display, while the chamber works restore the thematic sharing and instrumental characterization of the classical era, but in both cases of an informal kind, shy of system, wary of rhetoric.

 

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Stale Kleiberg

Ståle Kleiberg is a major Norwegian composer with a considerable international reputation. His music is widely performed in Norway and abroad, and is mostly commissioned by outstanding orchestras, ensembles and performers. His music is well represented on CDs, and several of these have received outstanding international reviews. Kleiberg’s music is characterised by a highly distinctive form of extended tonality and by meticulous attention to coloristic details. This is especially the case in his orchestral works, including his first symphony, The Bell Reef, and his Violin Concerto, issued on the 2L album Treble and Bass: Concertos by Ståle Kleiberg with Marianne Thorsen as the violin soloist. — 10 — — 11 — Kleiberg’s large-scale works in oratorio and opera format constitute an important part of his output. These works were all originally composed for Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, and after their premières, they have all been widely disseminated. His latest work, Mass for Modern Man, was recently premièred in Nidaros Cathedral, and will have its German premiere in the Münchner Dom in November 2015. His opera-oratorio David and Bathsheba was also highly acclaimed after its première in Nidaros Cathedral in 2008, and it has subsequently been performed in several countries. 2L’s recording of the work was nominated for an American Grammy in the category Best Opera Recording. Kleiberg’s Requiem – for the victims of Nazi persecution is one of his most frequently performed works. In addition to the Latin Mass, it includes specially commissioned texts by the Scottish poet and playwright Edwin Morgan. The work was performed in Washington National Cathedral on 11 September 2004 (Memorial Day for the terrorist attacks on Manhattan and Washington DC), and it was subsequently broadcast nationally in the US, recorded on CD with Washington National Cathedral’s choir and chamber orchestra. It has since been given many international performances. The Requiem is the principal work in a trilogy of compositions dealing with the same subject matter: the others are the orchestral work Lamento: Cissi Klein in memoriam and the cello concerto Dopo. The latter was premièred by Øyvind Gimse and the Trondheim Soloists, who also recorded it and brought it to the world on some of their tours. The works on this album represent a lesser-known, but no less valuable, part of Kleiberg’s output. His innovatory approach, formal command and technical mastery are especially apparent in his extensive chamber music oeuvre, and it is gratifying to be able to present a selection of these works here. Alongside his comprehensive work as an artist, Kleiberg is also an esteemed teacher, a Professor of Music at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology

photo: from booklet 2L115

Marianne Thorsen

Marianne Thorsen began playing the violin at the age of four at the municipal music school in Trondheim, where Bjarne Fiskum was her principal teacher. She studied with Felicity Lipman in London and later with György Pauk at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1994 she graduated from the Royal Academy with a DipRAM. In 1998 Marianne was nominated Young Soloist of the Year by the Norwegian concert institution Rikskonsertene. She won the Carl F. Flesch Outstanding Merit Prize in 1992, the Emily English Award 1995 and the Concours Internationale de Violon de Sion-Valais 2003. Marianne has performed as soloist with leading orchestras including the Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, City of Birmingham, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Prague Philharmonia and the Oslo Philharmonic.

Marianne Thorsen is also a founding member of the Leopold String Trio. The trio has become one of Europe's leading chamber music ensembles and have given concerts at Carnegie Hall, Musikverein and the Concertgebouw. In 2000 she was appointed leader of the Nash Ensemble of London. Marianne is professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Department of Music at NTNU in Trondheim. On this recording she plays a Pressenda violin made in Turin in 1841.

photo: from booklet 2L038

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Mezzotints: Chamber Music by Stale Kleiberg (2015)

Kleiberg

Stale Kleiberg

    Theater Byte -

Ståle Kleiberg is an award-winning Norwegian composer with a very productive career in numerous music genres. Mezzotints is a collection of works written for solo and chamber ensembles over the past decade and a half. As the program listed below readily demonstrates, Kleiberg exploits a number of musical styles. The composer also pays homage to some of his musical forbears such as Bela Bartok and possibly Claude Debussy. The players on this program are Marianne Thorsen (violin), Bard Monsen (second violin in the String Quartet), Ole Wuttudal (viola), Oyvind Gimse (cello), and Jorgen Larsen (piano) and they surely give this often-challenging music its due. String Quartet No.2 (16:00) Ruf und Nachklang (Reputation and Resonance) (14:45) Ashes (3:38) Piano Trio No. 2 (14:19) Sonata for Violin and Cello (11:47) Sonanza e Cadenza (9:42) String Quartet No. 2 is a probing piece with its three movements having an Adagio-Allegro-Adagio, rubato form like Bartok’s second string quartet. Its third movement quotes from the finale of the Berg Violin Concerto. Ruf und Nachklang explores the sonorities of the piano, particularly its unique resonances, and while it occasionally sounds as improvised as a jazz solo, it is as deliberately structured as is a Debussy prelude. Ashes, inspired by the Edvard Munch painting of the same title, depicts two characters, one introverted resignation, and the other, extroverted despair. There is a meditative nature to this piece and it certainly turns more inward than outward. The single-movement Piano Trio No.2 seems to be Debussy-inspired with its impressionistic piano melodies supported by sympathetic strings. There are not many works for a violin and cello duo and this three-movement Sonata begins with a dissonant conversation between the two stringed instruments and concludes with a rapid-fire tarantella with many shades of Bartok. The last work on this program, Sonanza e cadenza, is for violin and piano and is also the earliest. As this is not a sonata, the two instruments do play separately and not in unison and ends with a bravura violin solo that seems unfinished. This album was recorded at the Sofienberg Church in Oslo, Norway. This church seems to be a nearly ideal venue for chamber recordings. By definition, a mezzotint is an ancient method of making prints that is noteworthy for its ability to make images of graduated shades out of black and white. In the case of Mezzotints, we get music for chamber ensemble and soloists that will continually pique your interest. Each work presents an amalgam of interesting concepts that are well executed by these fine players. This is an album that is quite worthy of your attention and one that will make you anxious to hear more of Kleiberg’s compositions.

Lawrence DeVoe [read full review]

    Pizzicato -

Attractive Chamber Music from Norway The Norwegian composer Stale Kleiberg, born in 1958, belongs to the other modernity, that is not to say, who pretends to be writing contemporary music, but to the one that is more traditional, more concise, less abstract. The neo-romanticist Kleiberg belongs to this modern age. His Second String Quartet opens with a grim adagio that Shostakovich could have written. This is followed by a rhythmic Allegro, which in turn leads to another Adagio, but not as dark as the first and passionately increases. Two solo pieces, 'Ashes' for violin (very virtuoso) and 'Ruf und Nachklang for piano' (slightly melancholic) complete a program that gives a good insight into the composer's chamber music work. The piano trio is rhythmically urgent, giving the piano a priority position. The Neo-romantic Violin Sonata is characterized by a passionate singing, while the following Adagio with his dreamy gesture slowly leads to the final movement, which attains a nervous character through a spiraling theme. The last work, 'Sonanza e cadenza', is particularly original. In a somewhat snappy dialogue, the piano and violin face each other. So here we are dealing with a thoroughly stimulating program that does not leave the listener without a trace. Stale Kleiberg's music is interesting, sounds good and has something to say. The interpreters deserve as much praise as the sound engineers, who have provided a very good and natural-looking recording. Stale Kleiberg’s neo-romantic chamber music has a lot to tell, as one can hear in these excellent and passionate performances. The recorded sound is outstanding.

Remy Franck[read full review]

    Opus Haute Definition

On Mezzotints, Norwegian composer Stale Kleiberg is honored with six chamber music pieces. Music that is not, of course, the only source of inspiration for this musician, born in 1958, who also composed for the symphonic and religious genre with a Requiem in particular. The program of this album offers the String Quartet No. 2, in three movements, "Ruf und Nachklang", in two movements, "Ashes", a small piece of less than four minutes, the Piano Trio No. 2, in one movement, the Sonata for violin and cello, in three movements, and finally, "Sonanza e cadenza" a piece of ten minutes. The musicians performing these works are Marianne Thorsen on violin, Oyvind Gimse on cello, Bard Monsen on violin, Ole Wuttudal on viola and Jorgen Larsen on piano. In a sound recording that is, as expected, an exemplary one by Morten Lindberg, this album will enchant many music lovers with the chamber music of an endearing composer.

Jean-Jacques Millo[read full review]

    MusicWeb International

Ståle Kleiberg is a contemporary Norwegian composer who should command major international attention. His sound-world is conventionally tonal, influenced perhaps by Barber and Debussy, and also (according to the very pretentiously written booklet essay) Berg and Bartók. The booklet describes an emotionally reticent composer, whose chamber music is private and whose meanings are hidden. That may be so, but in Kleiberg’s sense of harmony, I also sense a physical openness: the outdoors, or even an open window with cool air coming in under the sash. I found a lot to enjoy here and will be exploring more of this composer’s music. The String Quartet No. 2 (2012) is two slow movements with a faster one in the center; the first movement has an insistence and tension which suggest that it is building up to some heart-rending climax, which, however, never arrives. The finale, by contrast, is a leave-taking, in which the first violinist has a prominent, almost concertante role. Piano Trio No. 2 (2002) demonstrates Kleiberg’s typical knack for dramatic, memorable opening gestures, this time string instruments plunging downward over repeated high piano chords. This idea is developed and contemplated in various ways; the instruments change roles, and sometimes the downward figure turns upside-down, ascending into a major key. In lyrical central passages, I am reminded of how little Kleiberg’s sound-world fits our stereotypes about “Nordic” composers; instead, it seems indebted to Americans most of all, and in this piece, there is even a bittersweet hint of Brahms or Fauré. These comparisons are merely to help the reader judge whether (s)he wants to hear the disc: Kleiberg’s voice is very much his own, and not derivative or imitative. The Sonata for Violin and Cello (2001) starts out calm, almost prosaic, but builds to dramatic things, and here I am reminded of Martin?. After a big first-movement climax, the cello is briefly allowed an impassioned solo. The finale is especially passionate. It strikes me, here, that none of the music on this album is necessarily “happy”. And Sonanza e cadenza (1998) confirms that pattern. I’m not sure what “sonanza” means, but the piece opens with alternating solos for violin and piano, advancing their own variations on a theme; eventually, the violinist rounds things out with the promised cadenza. The album has two solo pieces in addition to the chamber music. Ruf und Nachklang (Call and Echo, 2013) starts with a declaratory, somewhat dissonant statement by the pianist, then develops that idea in softer, subtler ways. The adagio finale is touching; I think of the pulse of Ravel, the harmonies of Barber or Griffes. Ashes (2010) is a very short work for solo violin, highly melodic and full of double-stopping and other virtuoso effects. It seems to end arbitrarily, on a few pizzicato notes, as if the soloist has grown tired. 2L’s notes make us understand that the composer and performers worked closely together, and we can assume that the excellent performances here, by some of Norway’s leading soloists and chamber players, represent Kleiberg’s ideal or something very close to it. Surely Kleiberg will be flattered by the overall production from the 2L label. The booklet essayist places him directly in a line stretching back to Haydn. This is excellent music, and especially for those who are “afraid” of contemporary music, a fascinating prospect. I will seek out 2L’s other recordings of Kleiberg immediately.

Brian Reinhart[read full review]

Mezzotints: Chamber Music by Stale Kleiberg (2015)

Kleiberg

Stale Kleiberg

Digital Converters: Horus, Merging Technologies
Editing Software: Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Financial Support: Norsk Kulturråd, Fond for utøvende kunstnere, Norsk Komponistforening and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU
Mastering Engineer: Morten Lindberg
Microphones: DPA Microphones, AEA Microphones
Piano Technician: Gisle Daus
Producer: Morten Lindberg
Recording Engineer: Morten Lindberg
Recording Location: Sofienberg Church, Norway, February 2015
Recording Software: Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Recording Technician: Beatrice Johannessen
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DXD

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2L115: Mezzotints: Chamber Music by Stale Kleiberg
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Tracks.
1.
String Quartet No. 2 - I. Adagio
Kleiberg
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2.
String Quartet No. 2 - II. Allegro
Kleiberg
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3.
String Quartet No. 2 - III. Adagio, rubato
Kleiberg
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4.
Ruf und Nachklang - I. Moderato
Kleiberg
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5.
Ruf und Nachklang - II. Adagio
Kleiberg
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6.
Ashes
Kleiberg
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7.
Piano Trio No. 2
Kleiberg
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8.
Sonata for Violin and Cello - I. Andante rubato
Kleiberg
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Sonata for Violin and Cello - II. Adagio
Kleiberg
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10.
Sonata for Violin and Cello - III. Allegro
Kleiberg
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11.
Sonanza e cadenza
Kleiberg
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