LAWO Classics presents here an entire album devoted to a selection of Kjell Habbestad’s sacred choral works. The music on this release was written over a period of 35 years and ranges from the composer’s opus 1 to opus 90. Textually, the works constitute a cycle of the church year, from the Annunciation to Christmas, and from Lent and Passion Week to Easter and Pentecost.
The Latvian Radio Choir, one of the world’s leading choirs, performs music from all periods, but has specialised mainly in contemporary music. There is hardly another choir that would be able to master the tonal challenges presented by certain works on this album. Thus the recording session in Riga turned out to be a very special experience both for the composer and the recording company.
Other contributors to the recording are Oslo Cathedral Choir, conductor Vivanne Sydnes, and Kåre Nordstoga at the organ. The reason for this is that the first three tracks, in the midst of a Latin and English language landscape, present Anglican chants with (New) Norwegian text. As one could not expect the Latvian Radio Choir to take on this task, the Latvian and the Norwegian choir pass the baton back and forth in the three works “Magnificat”, “Nunc Dimittis” and “Benedictus Dominus”. Soloists: Ieva Ezeriete and Agate Burkina, sopranos ("Magnificat"), Gundars Dzilums, baritone ("Nunc Dimittis"), Karlis Rutentals, tenor ("Benedictus Dominus").
Composer Kjell Habbestad studied church music and is Professor of Music Theory and Composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music. He has an earlier album of organ music, “Gaudeamus”, on the LAWO Classics label, and other releases are planned.
The Latvian Radio Choir (LRC) ranks among the top professional chamber choirs in Europe. The repertoire of LRC ranges from Renaissance music to the most sophisticated scores by modern composers.
ET NOX IN DIEM VERSA
Everything is a circle, in a way—.
For example, I have always visualized the calendar year as a wheel, where January starts at the very bottom. Then the year climbs upwards on the western side, heading towards July—from 12:00 to 1:00. Thus Midsummer’s Day is north and Christmas south, with the summer and winter solstices approximating the positions of the magnetic poles. (...)
The works on this album are arranged in an order that approximates this circle. The title is taken from a stanza in the Christmas hymn, Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming, stanza 3, the concluding line of which is “And night turned into day” / Et nox in diem versa—.
- Kjell Habbestad, composer