Lux Aeterna is a new five-movement work by composer, guitarist, and improviser Terje Rypdal who, like his labelmates Michael Mantler and Jan Garbarek, has done a great deal to blur the lines between European jazz and contemporary classical music. Rypdal's ensemble, which includes himself on guitar, trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, church organist Iver Kleive, and soprano Åshild Stubø Gundersen, work live alongside the Bergen Chamber Ensemble conducted by Kjell Seim at Domkirke's Molde Jazz Festival to create a work of stunning beauty, crystalline silences, and time-expanding dynamics. Over the five movements, Rypdal creates specific harmonic tensions that are resolved with a creative and disciplined use of varying tonalities and durations. In the first movement, "Luminous Galaxy," the chamber ensemble and Gundersen open the piece for nearly four minutes and you begin to take in and feel your way through the lush soundscape; Mikkelborg enters with a half note, slipping like a fine-edged knife into the heart of the mix. At eight minutes it's just Mikkelborg and a drone of strings before the ensemble gradually reenters this entirely new sonic world that presents itself as a whole, and the musicians do so almost pastorally before Kleive's organ announces its solo presence, once again courting the strings to advance into its sonic terrain. Before the first movement is finished, the piece comes full circle just in time to create an entirely new series of landscapes propelled by Rypdal's guitar. And so it goes. There is nothing remotely cold about this work; it is warm and dark and stunning in its stark presentation that is so deceptively complex. By the time the fifth and title movement commences, the listener has been to many worlds within the sonorous terrains of the heart. The lines blur between improvisation, classical music, and jazz, but also between sound and music and between rhythm and space, as tonal fields and textural planes become refracted in reverse into an awesome whole that extends themes Rypdal first explored in Q.E.D. and his double concerto. Terje Rypdal is making the greatest music of his life.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
|Lux Aeterna, for guitar, trumpet, organ, soprano & chamber ensemble|