Ensemble 96

Immortal Nystedt

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Immortal Nystedt Review

by Blair Sanderson

It's quite an achievement to become famous in one's lifetime, even to be hailed as a great master, yet the creators of Immortal Nystedt seem to have presented the esteemed Norwegian composer his eternal reward a bit prematurely. Knut Nystedt is indeed celebrated in his country, and he has been honored with a knighthood in the Order of St. Olav for his work, so some kudos are clearly in order. But if the a cappella choral music on this SACD by Øystein Fevang with Ensemble 96 and the Bærum Vokalensemble is representative of Nystedt's best work, then the praise is a little extravagant. These are workmanlike pieces, to be sure, consisting of fluid tonal melodies over block chords that proceed at a moderately slow pace and that rarely stray from their lush added-note harmonies. However, though Nystedt's compositions are polished and effective, they reflect a fairly conservative approach to choral writing that makes them sound less than innovative and feel unexciting. Perhaps only Nytt er livet for women's choir (2003) has enough chromatic variety and tension in its dissonant counterpoint to be striking, and the mysteriously blurred arrangement of the chorale Komm, süsser Tod in Immortal Bach (1987) has some magic to captivate the listener. Unfortunately, the rest of the program is uniform in its reverent moods and staid in its rhythmic and harmonic regularity, so seekers of interesting or adventurous choral music will find this album a disappointment, even with the expressive singing and excellent audio engineering.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Prayers of Kierkegaard, for chorus, Op. 157
1 Ensemble 96 02:31 Amazon
2 Ensemble 96 01:43 Amazon
3 Ensemble 96 04:11 Amazon
4 Ensemble 96 03:26 Amazon
5 Ensemble 96 03:09 Amazon
6 Ensemble 96 02:48 Amazon
Salve Regina, for chorus, Op. 156a
7 Ensemble 96 05:08 Amazon
The Word Became Flesh, for chorus, Op. 162
8 Ensemble 96 07:31 Amazon
Nytt er livet, for chorus, Op. 170
9 Ensemble 96 01:40 Amazon
10 Ensemble 96 02:09 Amazon
11 Ensemble 96 01:41 Amazon
12 Ensemble 96 01:37 Amazon
Jesu sieben Worte, for chorus, Op. 171
13 Ensemble 96 01:10 Amazon
14 Ensemble 96 02:11 Amazon
15 Ensemble 96 02:26 Amazon
16 Ensemble 96 01:00 Amazon
17 Ensemble 96 00:49 Amazon
18 Ensemble 96 01:20 Amazon
19 Ensemble 96 02:05 Amazon
Immortal Bach (After Bach's Chorale Come Sweet Death), for chorus
20 Ensemble 96 04:07 Amazon
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