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All that our mothers have fought 2L167SACD

All That Our Mothers Have Fought
Eva Holm Foosnæs
The Black Monkey
Tone Åse (b. 1965)
Alt hva mødrene har kjempet
Trond H.F. Kverno (b. 1945)
Stabat Mater Dolorosa (1991)
Marianne Reidarsdatter Eriksen (b. 1971)
Etter regnfallet
Birgit Djupedal (b. 1994)
Ofte må jeg så mye
Ellen Lindquist
Kammerkoret Aurum/Eva Holm Foosnæs
rec. 2019/20, Selbu Church, Norway
All text and translations included.
2L 2L-167-SACD [52]

All That Our Mothers Have Fought is a second album from the Aurum Chamber Choir (Kammerkoret Aurum) on the 2L Music label, and it brings together a collection of contemporary Norwegian choral works that portray a variety of strong women. The music spotlights some of the struggles women have had to endure in the past, and still live with today.

The programme is bookended by pieces from Eva Holm Foosnæs, starting with Malala which, using a compact text by Svanhild Amdal Telnes, eloquently conveys the message of strength and hope around the story of Malala Yousafzai. The final track, a highlight of this disc and an award-winning work, The Black Monkey, sets Katherine Mansfield’s witty portrayal of a small girls’ restless unruliness, or at least, unruliness when looked at by the standards of the day.

Tone Åse’s Alt hva mødrene har kjempet or ‘All that the mothers have fought’ deals with women’s suffrage in three movements, mixing choral writing with spoken word and other vocal effects. The piece is a musical illustration of the forces attempting to silence women in a variety of ways, and some ways in which the female voice can fight through to be recognised. Delivered with a skilful blend of humour and stern implacability this is a central piece for this programme, at one point proposing a reversal of the Norwegian national hymn into an alternative version in which fighting fathers are replaced with fighting mothers.

Trond H.F. Kverno’s Stabat mater dolorosa is an impressive setting of the well-known medieval hymn to Mary as she witnesses her son dying on the cross, while Marianne Reidarsdatter Eriksen’s Etter regnfallet (After the Rain) expressively sets texts by Hilde Myklebust on the sharpened senses and their responses to light, smell, landscape and the passage of time. Birgit Djupedal’s Ofte må jeg så mye (There’s often too much to remember) looks at the drudgery of a life trapped within never-ending duties, but with a promise of freedom hidden somewhere deep inside. Ellen Lindquist’s Doctora is the story of a young Syrian woman who, like Malala Yousafszai, was determined to stick to a path of education, staying in Syria to finish her medical degree in an act seen as resistance by the regime. This is a real person, the title Doctora or ‘female doctor’ deliberately chosen to protect this person’s identity, while at the same time giving voice to all women repressed under similar rule or forced to flee in order to survive and have any hope of flourishing.

Superbly performed and recorded in the spacious and keenly observed way we have come to expect from the 2L label, this is at times a confrontational programme, but one which can be appreciated on numerous levels. This is not the kind of disc one puts on when relaxing in the bath, but nor is it in any way aversive. It demands that we pay attention and absorb what is being expressed both in words (mostly in Norwegian) and music, but at the same time delivers with well-crafted work that lodges in the consciousness and certainly widens our horizons.

Dominy Clements

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