KNUT VAAGE (b.1961): Høgsongen for 2 Soloists, Choir and Orchestra, TORSTEIN AAGAARD-NILSEN (b.1964): Ars Vivendi for Choir, Vibraphone and String Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 02T070
Label: LAWO Classics
Description: The main work here is Vaage's 40-minute dramatic setting of excerpts from the Song of Songs, a text which the composer sees as a major piece of world literature. He speaks of the 'extravagance' of the poem's celebration of love, and the music is commensurately powerful and colourful. In response to the impassioned fervour of the text, Vaage provided music of perhaps surprising (though not inappropriate, if you think about it and pay attention to the ecstatic eroticism of the poetry) vigour and dynamism, with the soloists' rôles exuding an operatic level of passion and urgency. The idiom is firmly grounded in tonality, and thoroughly accessible; the large orchestral and choral forces used to thrilling effect. Aagaard-Nilsen's work is based on a 1999 collection of poems by Georg Johannesen; "Ars vivendi, or the Seven Virtues of Life". The character of each virtue - Moderation, Righteousness, Hope, Love and so on - is described in verse, and in Aagaard-Nilsen's composition, by music which expresses the essential character of each virtue in seven short movements. The idiom is very tonal and harmonically rich; the ensemble accompaniment rich in bell sounds. Norwegian texts. Mari Eriksmoen (soprano), Halvor F. Melien (baritone), Collegium Musicum Choir and Orchestra; Eivind Gullberg Jensen.