Various Artists

Do You Believe in Heather?: Chamber Music by Ståle Kleiberg

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Composer Ståle Kleiberg is quite popular in Norway and is beginning to gain appreciation abroad for scores that fall into an easy modal framework, but have a complex inwardness that marks them as part of the contemporary era. He is sometimes classed as neo-Romantic, but somehow his music, languid and lyrical as it may be, has a psychological dimension that makes the label seem unsuitable. A characteristic work here is the Trio Luna (sample "Luna serale"), for the Debussyan ensemble of flute, viola, and harp. Like Debussy, Kleiberg succeeds in divorcing the harp totally from its salon connotations; it imbues the work with the shades of moonlight the music represents. The opening String Quartet No. 3, although more abstract, is similar in mood. There are two song cycles, both set to works by poet Helge Torvund, who has had an ongoing creative relationship with Kleiberg. The album title is from one of them: Trur du på lyng? (Do You Believe in Heather?). As the title suggests, the poems are not only naturalistic but involve, in a quintessentially Scandinavian way, inner reactions to nature. The low-key, low-vibrato singing of soprano Marianne Beate Kielland captures the meditative quality of the texts beautifully. A notable feature of the album is that it is an ensemble creation; although Kielland appears on more than half of the music on the album, no specific artist is billed. Highly recommended for lovers of contemporary chamber music.

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