Ståle Kleiberg’s concertos unfold in the space between poetry, passion, and playfulness. This is contemporary music with which listeners can easily engage, but which does not for one moment compromise artistic quality. “I try to form the musical expression so that it corresponds with my experience of life; or, to put it another way, to form it so that it is in accord with my conception of what it means to be a human being,” says Kleiberg about himself and his music.
When the pandemic hit the world with full force in 2020, preparations for this album had been under way for some time. A recording involving a symphony orchestra and three soloists can hardly be arranged on a Monday and executed on a Tuesday – to put it mildly. There are many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that must somehow find their place. When Norway went into lockdown in March 2020, the pieces were ready, contracts and agreements signed, and the recording dates booked. We wondered how it would all pan out. We even wondered for a while if the recordings could take place at all. Fortunately, the flexibility and the readiness to find creative solutions to unfamiliar problems shown by everyone involved meant that we were able to get the job done despite all the difficulties. In fact, we experienced a personal presence and greater attention to detail than ever before, like recording chamber music with the sonic palette of the full orchestra.
The Violin Concerto No. 2 was inspired by the titles of three series of paintings by Kjell Pahr-Iversen: the first movement by the series entitled Ikon; the second by the title Don Quixote’s Army; the third by the title The Gates Unfold. The Cello Concerto Dopo is the oldest work on this album. It was composed in 1993 and was strongly influenced by the (then) ongoing war in the Balkans.
The Italian word dopo means after. This title refers to the harrowing fact that, a mere 50 years after the Holocaust, atrocities were again being committed in Europe that brought the term “ethnic cleansing” into our daily vocabulary.
The music is a testament to the grief and pain of this bleak re-treading of earlier pathways. The Concerto for Viola and Orchestra is the most recent work on this album. It was composed in 2019 for Eivind Ringstad and the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra. Edvard Munch’s variants on the Dance of Life theme provided the inspiration for this work, which unfolds somewhere in the space between poetry, passion, and play.
Marianne Thorsen – Violin
Eivind Ringstad – Viola
Fredrik Sjölin – Cello
Trondheim Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Szilvay
Total time: 00:58:01
|Original Recording Format|
|Release Date||July 30, 2021|
Choosing (members of) the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra to record Stale Kleiberg, once its composer-in-residence, is a logical and gratifying one. The musicians are well equipped for the task at hand. But that isn’t all. To illustrate the standing of this provincial Norwegian orchestra, it ought to be taken as a clear indication of excellence that the American conductor, James Gaffigan, has just signed a two-year contract to become its next music director.
According to Ståle Kleiberg’s excellent notes, and, therefore, coming from the ‘horse’s mouth’, his Viola Concerto (2019) is based upon “Edvard Munch’s variants on the Dance of Life theme provided the inspiration for this work, which unfolds somewhere in the space between poetry, passion and play”. Notwithstanding having to take his word for it, this wonderful and cleverly designed composition has, in my view, also a typical Norwegian pastoral ring around it.
Be that as it may, written for Eivind Ringstad, prize winner of the 2012 European Broadcasting Union (EBU) competition for young musicians, and the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, one could not have wished for a better teamwork performance, the more so because Peter Szilvay’s – Mariss Jansons one time assistant at the Oslo Philharmonic – inspirational orchestral grip, efficaciously harmonizes the various inputs from the soloist on the one hand and the individual instrument groups on the other.
Although some would rather sit in the hall than on stage, lovers of full sound all around get preferential treatment. In keeping with 2L’s usual soundstage (“Recorded music is no longer a matter of a fixed one-dimensional setting, but rather of a three-dimensional enveloping situation”), and provided the play-back equipment allows it, the DSD Surround Sound listener is put in the royal ‘immersive’ seat, well in the middle of all the action.
Morten Lindberg, 2L’s sound wizard, has spared no effort to get the full frequency spectrum across with the highest possible degree of reality, without any hint of distortion. So, don’t spare your speakers. Listen to the music and forget about the neighbors. They might like it!
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