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Grete Pedersen: Bent Sørensen – St. Matthew Passion (FLAC)

Grete Pedersen: Bent Sørensen - St. Matthew Passion (FLAC)

Grete Pedersen: Bent Sørensen – St. Matthew Passion (FLAC)

Composer: Bent Sørensen
Performer: The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir, Ensemble Allegria
Conductor: Grete Pedersen
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Label: BIS
Catalogue: BIS2611
Release: 2023
Size: 238 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

St Matthew Passion
01. I. In veils of mist
02. II. Betania
03. III. Psalm
04. IV. Wild Nights
05. V. Crucifixus
06. VI. Lament
07. VII. Tenebrae
08. VIII. Magdalena
09. IX. The shore again, Galilee
10. X. Into the Mist

This work is a major late-career statement by composer Bent Sørensen, born in Copenhagen in 1958. In all likelihood, he will have the satisfaction of hearing it performed often in his old age, for it is an absolutely fascinating work. Much of Sørensen’s music has been in smaller forms and closely explores extensions of the tonal repertory of choral singers, but here, he works on a larger canvas. Integral to the project is the text, which he designates as “Curated by Jakob Holtze.” Words describing the Passion from Gospel According to St. Matthew are there, but they are interleaved with poetry, most of it in English (even the Danish poetry), by Edith Södergran, Anna Akhmatova, Emily Dickinson, Seren Ulrik Thomsen, Ole Sarvig, and Frank Jæger. Mostly, they describe romantic situations. One could devote an entire class or listening session to examining how these work, for the relationships are subtle; Matthew’s “From the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land” is paired with Emily Dickinson’s “Wild nights – Wild nights / Were I with thee.” However, Sørensen’s musical treatments are equally interesting in themselves. The counterpart to the shifts between the Bible and modern poetry is a texture in which the choir tends to fade in and out like a radio signal, with the composer’s trademark fuzzing of tonal referents embodying and being manipulated to depict what is happening in the text. The orchestral brass are deployed in service of the passages that depict lamentation, and this has a deeply powerful effect. The passages for solo singers are less solos than temporary alterations of the larger texture. It would be hard to think of a group more suited to performing this haunting work than the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir and its conductor, Grete Pedersen, and they are magnificently recorded by BIS at the Ris church in Oslo. A major choral release.

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