About the album
The cause of mirages as well as rainbows, refraction is an optical phenomenon which under certain circumstances allows us to see objects that are actually hidden behind the horizon – distant islands across a wide sea, or the sun before it has actually risen. The reason is that rays of light change direction as they pass from one layer of the atmosphere into another, or from one medium, such as air, into another, such as water. The same principle applies to sound waves, and in a sense one might say that music in the early 20th century did pass from one medium to another, from late Romanticism into an unknown future. Refractions allows us to sample that transition in the field of choral music, through the prisms of four different temperaments – those of Alban Berg, Anton Webern and the Norwegian composer Fartein Valen, all born in the mid-1880s, and of the somewhat younger Olivier Messiaen. A number of the works are on sacred themes – including those by Valen – while others are at least nominally secular, although a spiritual dimension is often present. One instance of this is the celebrated Cinq rechants for twelve mixed voices, Messiaen’s fascinating musical expression of the Tristan myth in which love crosses the border between life and death – a mystical power that cannot be expressed in words. Refractions is the fourth disc to appear on BIS with the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir and their conductor Grete Pedersen, and follow on Grieg interpretations ‘of breathtaking beauty’ (Le Monde de la Musique), a programme inspired by Norwegian folk music containing ‘some of the most striking and moving singing put down on disc for years’ (Gramophone), and most recently a disc of works by Brahms and Schubert, on which the choir, according to the reviewer for All Music Guide ‘sings with pristine intonation and purity, yet its tone is full, warm, and colourful.’
11Ave Maria Op. 4
Composer: Fartein Valen05:26
12Cinq rechants for 12 mixed voices I.
Composer: Olivier Messiaen04:38
13Cinq rechants for 12 mixed voices II.
Composer: Olivier Messiaen03:18
14Cinq rechants for 12 mixed voices III.
Composer: Olivier Messiaen04:17
15Cinq rechants for 12 mixed voices IV.
Composer: Olivier Messiaen02:36
16Cinq rechants for 12 mixed voices V.
Composer: Olivier Messiaen03:54
17Entflieht auf leichten Kähnen, Op.2
Composer: Anton von Webern02:43
18Lieder. Op. 19 Weiß wie Lilien. Lebhaft, leicht und frei
Composer: Anton von Webern01:05
19Lieder. Op 19 Ziehn die Schafe von der Wiese. Sehr gemächlich
Composer: Anton von Webern00:57
110Hvad est du dog skiøn, Op.12
Composer: Fartein Valen03:07
111Kom regn fra det høie, Op.25
Composer: Fartein Valen03:28
Composer: Alban Berg02:40
113Der 121. Psalm
Composer: Fartein Valen12:40
114O sacrum convivium
Composer: Olivier Messiaen05:14