SVEN-DAVID SANDSTRÖM (b.1942): Messiah.

Catalogue Number: 09M084

Label: Carus

Reference: 83.453

Format: CD

Price: $35.98

Description: This work was commissioned for the Handel anniversary last year, with the instruction to set Handel's libretto (by Charles Jennens) in a completely new work. Sandström was an inspired choice for this project. As in the Mass settings we offered in January, Sandström rises to the challenge of contemporary religious music by writing in a gorgeous, glowing tonal vocabulary that nonetheless incorporates a vast range of expressive techniques and does not avoid elements that are unmistakably modern, always used with the utmost restraint. Occasional gliding inflections, unexpected dissonances and abrupt dynamic contrasts put a contemporary stamp on a wide-ranging æsthetic which is unquestionably neo-romantic (or neo-classical, or neo-baroque as appropriate) while remaining as richly expressive of the religious text as sacred music of any era without retreating into the facile religiosity of too many proponents of 'new spirituality'. Sandström never imitates or quotes Handel - all the music is original Sandström, though the outline of the earlier Messiah is followed closely; Handel's arias are arias, choruses are choruses, and the text is almost unaltered. Within this apparently restrictive framework, Sandström constantly surprises with an unexpected but wholly satisfying harmonic resolution or shift of key here, an enlivening syncopation of a traditional-sounding vocal line there, or a radiant harmonic halo surrounding contrapuntal choral textures, the whole framed in fresh, inventive orchestration in an ingeniously updated take on the forces with which Handel would have been familiar. 2 CDs. Texts included. Robin Johannsen (soprano), Roxana Constantinescu (alto), Timothy Fallon (tenor), Michael Nagy (bass), Stuttgart Festival Ensemble; Helmuth Rilling.

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