Hilde Haraldsen Sveen (soprano), Marianne Beate Kielland (alto), Ulf Øien (tenor), Trond Halstein Moe (bass), Det Norske Solistkor, Kristiansand Symfoniorkester, dir. Terje Boye Hansen
2L 36 (51 minutes) 1 2 3 4 5 6
Not only is the name of Sigurd Islandsmoen (1881–1964) virtually unknown abroad; you hardly hear it mentioned in Norway these days. This excellent recording of his moving, once-popular Requiem of 1935–36 should make quite a difference to that state of affairs. It's big-boned but approachable, unambiguously tonal, fleet-footedly contrapuntal, chant-flavoured, obviously Norwegian right from the opening (though not at all "folky") and it doesn't have a dishonest bar anywhere in it: this is deeply sincere music. Protestant Norway may not have a tradition of Requiems, but - with Monrad Johansen’s Voluspå and Irgens-Jensen’s Heimferd - it can boast a number of large-scale works for chorus and orchestra; in some places, too, particularly in its layering of the solo vocal lines above the chorus, Islandsmoen's Requiem reminded me very directly of another forgotten masterpiece, Des Jona Sendung by the Estonian Rudolf Tobias (1873–1918).
Terje Boye Hansen, whose new edition of the score is used in this recording, conducts a performance that glows with conviction; his soloists and chorus are roundly excellent; Nils Grinde and Wolfgang Plagge provide a first-rate booklet text; and 2L capture the large forces involved in first-rate sound. This one is a must – something Norway can be proud of!