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Friday, October 16, 2020

Kjartan Sveinsson, Der Klang Der Offenbarung des Gottlichen


Der Klang Der Offenbarung Des Gottlichen (Sono Luminus SLE-70017) is called an opera but perhaps is not one as strictly defined. There are no costumed singers on the stage, there are instead a series of painted sets depicting German Romantic cliches, not sequentially plot-oriented but awash in banality. The orchestra and choir perform their parts from the orchestra pit. 

The music revels in a pared down lyricism that has flashes of Romanticism, but also traces of Renaissance and Baroque-to-Classical shadings, often fragmented and repeated as a kind of later Minimalism that has resonance in Radical Tonality. Composer Kjartan Sveinsson at times reminds of Part's approach to 'the old-in-the-new," other moments less so. Either way the music stands out as distinctive and original.

It all apparently was inspired by Icelander Halidor Laxness and his book World Light with its tale of an "incurable longing for beauty and its catastrophic consequences," as the liner notes have it.

And the music most definitely revels in a lyric beauty that at times perhaps gains a tragic feeling through its endlessly static unfolding? Perhaps.

The main thrust of this music-as-music is an enchantment that lingers on in the listening mind after the music ends. It is a poetic yearning one experiences, a sad reverie no doubt, that nonetheless beguiles as one experiences the slowness of its presence. Highly recommended.

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