The releases by the small Norwegian label 2L are almost always worth hearing, for many combine a pair of virtues: they have impressive audiophile sound, and they generally capture intriguing Norwegian repertory that stands apart from the European mainstream and makes one want to hear more. Both are in evidence here. It may not be evident from the title, but Out of Darkness is a setting of the story of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection: not, as composer Torbjorn Dyrud points out, a Passion setting, for it continues after the Passion story ends. The tonality of the work features extended harmonies of a very common sort, with a choir backed by trumpet and percussion, and listeners who sample the work in small bits are unlikely to get the full effect of what is really an unusually varied and emotionally direct setting. Dyrud sets texts in Latin and, here, English, writing that the mixture of comprehensible and incomprhensible texts adds musical layers and "is also an expression of my own faith: part of it I can understand, part of it I cannot." The spoken passages of a narrator, here Sarah Head, should be given, he specifies, in the native language of the audience. These layers of text are complemented by an unusually varied choral treatment: the Nidaros Cathedral Choir moves from scene-setting to action in a unique, seamless way. Fans of choral music will want to hear the singing on its own merits: the choir, under director Vivianne Sydnes, achieves impressive text intelligibility that is all the more surprising given that the members are not native English speakers. And they do indeed get impressive support from 2L's engineers. The booklet comes with instructions for realizing the audiophile Blu-ray sound included on the disc; those possessing the proper equipment are likely in for a treat.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Out of Darkness|