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Edvard Munch wanted to be a writer, too, and preceded each new painted subject with a brief existential sketch that underlined both his skills and his limitations with narrative in whatever form: a sense of bitten-off immediacy and stillborn form, obsessively returned to. These fragmentary texts cohere almost miraculously in Bjørnstad’s cantata, which combines folkish themes, bright swing passages and freeform instrumental interludes. The opening title, which translates as ‘A raptor clings to my inner soul’, might seem to set the whole thing offin an authentically ‘Munchian’ way; but Bjørnstad’s theme is light and airy, and when the music breaks out confidently on ‘Jorden elskede luften’ (‘The Earth Loved the Air’) we seem to be in a different world entirely, and one that poses new questions about the paintings. Can they be so unremittingly dark when their pre-texts inspire such sunlit music? The Oslo Chamber Choir sing with outdoor freshness and impeccable diction, neither official nor ‘country’ in pronunciation. And, needless to say, it’s beautifully recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio by Jan Erik Kongshaug.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Choir & Organ, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing