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Ståle KLEIBERG (b.1958)
Lamento: Cissi Klein in memoriam (2000) [14.37]
Symphony No. 1 The Bell Reef (1991) [17.27]
Symphony No. 2 Kammersymfoni (1997) [24.13]
Trondheim Symphony Orchestra
cond. Eivind Aadland (Lamento); Rolf Gupta (2); Christian Eggen (1)
rec. Olavshallen, Trondheim, Norway, 6-7 Aug 2001 (Lamento); 12 Oct 2000 (2); 20 Apr 2001 (1) DDD
AURORA ACD 5032 [56.29]

Kleiberg was born in Stavanger. A graduate of Oslo University he now holds an assistant professorship in Trondheim. He was awarded the Fartein Valen prize in 1999 and has been composer-in-residence to the Valen Days and also to the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra.

The Lamento is one of a trilogy of works written in response to the Nazi atrocities. The other two works are Dopo (a cello concerto) and Requiem for victims of Nazi persecution. Cissi Klein was a 13 year old taken from her classroom at Kalvskinnet school in 1942 and transported to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The Lamento describes an arc ascending from quiet writing to vehement protest (10.03) and falling away into music-box innocence and silence. It makes for a tender and touching journey in a single movement. Lamento is most fastidiously and magically orchestrated. Its world is a shade Bergian sometimes accented with the world-weary sorrow of Nystroem's Sinfonia del Mare.

The insinuatingly emotional probing string writing in Lamento with its modestly graded ascents and sinuous weaving carries over into the first movement of the at first rather severe Kammersymfoni. However the suggestion of marine depths, viridian and emerald return here in subtle Ravelian light. Once again there is some protesting work for the brass punching the message home with a force not always expected from a chamber symphony. The tension and style at the few moments of trauma are comparable with Allan Pettersson - especially in his emphatic writing for brass. The lyrical impetus and sustained intensity is dreamlike and evocative of Copland's outdoor manner crossed with that of the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov in his psychedelically kaleidoscopic Fifth Symphony. The Kammersymfoni sounds not at all chamber-like except in its transparently airy orchestration.

The First Symphony is in three movements (Departure; Shipwreck; The Bell Reef) and comes last on the disc. The ‘Bell Reef’ of the title is a reef off the south-west coast of Norway. In 1537 a ship came to collect valuables including the bells of Stavanger Cathedral. The ship foundered on the reef and the bells were lost. It is rumoured that they can be heard sounding from the seabed. The music in this case is less Bergian and something like a clash between Howard Hanson and Ravel (Daphnis and the last movement of Ma Mere l'Oye). The orchestration is diaphanous, unafraid of modest dissonance for the sake of colour. Harp and bell-like sounds ring out while the violins sing keeningly. The second movement's storm uses gestures common to the tempestuous music in Nystroem's Sinfonia del Mare without being as baldly onomatopoeic as Nystroem's overture for The Tempest. Even so this movement is arguably over-extended for its 6.22. The keen-edged rustling of the violins and the lazy curves of the woodwind in the finale create an idyllic nature-scape with some similarities to Frank Bridge (Summer), Bax (Spring Fire) and Moeran (slow movement of the Symphony) and with hardly any dissonance. A solo trumpet sings a requiem, not unlike the lines of a Bax epilogue, over the skein of sound in motion. The strings toll in reference to the sunken bells.

One small criticism: the timing gaps between works are too short.

Good to see the name of Jim Samson as the notewriter. I still cherish his K&A study of the music of Szymanowski. He has that gift for writing about music that describes imaginatively yet uses a vocabulary accessible to the non-musician.

These are extremely impressionistic-melodic scores in which Kleiberg writings with natural fluency synthesises the heritage of Ravel and others to original effect. Recommended.

Rob Barnett


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