Norwegian Radio Orchestra

Magne Amdahl: Astrognosia & Æsop

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AllMusic Review by James Manheim

Magne Amdahl's Astrognosia won an award as Norway's orchestral work of the year in 1994, when stylistically conservative orchestral music was less common than it would be 20 years later. Amdahl has worked both inside and outside the concert music tradition. It is an entertaining work, something of a modern-day Carnival of the Animals given the preponderance of animals (some of them human) among the signs of the zodiac to which the 17 movements of the work refer (there are three "Interludia," a prelude, and a final pavane in addition to the individual zodiac signs). The Norwegian Radio Orchestra under Ingar Bergby gets the fun in the work, and the second piece on the program, Æsops fabler (a set of spoken fables of Aesop accompanied by orchestra), might easily work well as part of an orchestral family program. The fables are in Norwegian, but there is no reason they couldn't be translated into English or other languages, and translations are available here. The real star of the show, rather than Amdahl or Bergby, is producer Morten Lindberg, who earned a 2016 Grammy nomination for best surround mastering engineer for his work here. The transparency of the rather dense orchestral writing is awesome even on a conventional stereo, and there are conventional CD and Blu-ray audio discs in the physical release, plus a variety of download formats available for those on the frontiers of sound reproduction. A thoroughly entertaining release for those at any level of stereo ownership.

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