Kleiberg: Hymn to Love; The Light; Andrew Smith: Requiem
Nidaros Cathedral Girls’ Choir; Trondheim Soloists
2L 2L-150-SABD (hybrid CD/SACD, plus Blu-ray audio) 68:39 mins
This album may be called Lux, and it is full of radiant sounds, yet it was born out of darkness. The principal work is Liverpool-born composer Andrew Smith’s Requiem, in which several verses are replaced by sacred texts referring to children. These insertions reference the killing of the innocents by King Herod and Rachel’s despair at the abduction of children of Ramah, but the impetus was the modern-day horror of the massacre on the Norwegian island of Utøya. The Requiem was commissioned in 2011 by the Nidaros Cathedral Girls’ Choir, several of whose members knew victims of the atrocity. Smith’s music is immersed in a medieval sensibility, with plainchant at its core, yet the voices cluster and layer in a way that is unmistakably 21st-century in expression. While the organ accompanies, Trygve Seim’s saxophone lines weave around the choir, taking off where words fall short. If these improvised musings occasionally pall, they also produce striking moments, such as the saxophone’s searing high cry over a refulgent organ climax eliding into the voices’ entry in ‘Vox in Rama’.
Ultimately, while there is anguish, Requiem is an assuaging, hopeful work, heard here in ideal conditions, with the choir on impressive form and a typically outstanding and atmospheric recording from 2L on both Blu-ray and hybrid SACD with everything from stereo to 3-D surround. The ever-exuberant strings of the Trondheim Soloists join the voices for Ståle Kleiberg’s Hymn to Love and The Light to provide uplifting bookends for an impressive disc.