About the album
"Unexpected Songs" is the debut recording of Norwegian countertenor Daniel Sæther. The works on this CD are juxtapositions of old (texts) and new (music). The songs are written by some of the most important Norwegian composers of contemporary music and religious music in the 20th and 21st centuries. The texts are mostly religious; hymns, bible texts and excerpts from the classical mass.
ARNE NORDHEIM (1931–2010) had an insightful relationship with world literature. His list of works encompasses many texts set to music, ranging from the Bible to Dante to Norwegian contemporary literature. In 1988 he composed "Tre Voci" with texts of Francesco Petrarca and Giordano Bruno. Five years later he turned to the sixteenth- century author Torquato Tasso. "Three Unexpected Songs" was written for singer Carl Høgset as a surprise — thus the title.
That he chose Henrik Wergeland is not surprising, nor that "Den første sommerfugl" (The First Butterfly) was premiered in their mutual home Grotten — on none other than the 17th of May 1982 by two of the guests, singer Guri Egge and harpist Elisabeth Sønstevold. The song is dedicated to his Rannveig, who had become his bride the previous year in a ceremony in Oslo City Hall.
"Hymnus" by CONRAD BADEN (1908–1989) is based on "Vexilla regis", a medieval hymn by Venantius Fortunatus, a sixth-century Italian-born bishop in French Poitiers. He was a prolific poet, and two of his songs for worship are at the centre of the Catholic liturgy for Good Friday. Conrad Baden has set both texts to music: "Pange lingua" and "Vexilla regis".
"Magnificat" by EGIL HOVLAND (1924–2013) is the fruitn of a commission from Ny Musikk, the Norwegian branch of the International Society for Contemporary Music. The work was premiered in 1964 in Trinity Church in Oslo during the Nordic Church Music Symposium with Vessa Hansen as soloist.
Mary’s exultant and social-critical song of praise in the Gospel of Luke (1:46-55) is one of the biblical texts most frequently set to music. It is sung every day during Evening Prayer in monasteries and churches. The angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will give birth to a child that will be called the Son of God.
The church music of KJELL MØRK KARLSEN (born 1947) has been influenced by his own distinguished family tradition. His father, Rolf Karlsen, was an enterprising cathedral organist and choirmaster in Oslo from 1966 to 1981. The son has held the same position in Stavanger and Tønsberg and has also served as church musician in Greverud, Sør-Fron, Slemmestad and Asker. He has combined his performative career with creative activity and has provided Norwegian church music with an extensive repertoire for organ, choir, various instruments and for solo voice, often clearly rooted in sacred vocal tradition. His compositions for wind instruments are grounded in his own playing of several of them.
The five movements of "Missa brevis" (short mass) are as found in the classical mass, and the latter is reflected in the church’s Sunday worship service: "Kyrie", "Gloria", "Credo", "Sanctus" and "Agnus Dei".
PARTICIPATING MUSICIANS on this recording are: Caroline Eidsten Dahl (recorder), Lynetta Taylor Hansen (flute), Marianne Svenning (oboe), Ida Bryhn (viola), Anne Stine Dahl (cello), Henrikke G. Rynning (viola da gamba), Vegard Lund (theorbo), Birgitte Volan Håvik (harp), Lars Henrik Johansen (harpsichord) and Anders Eidsten Dahl (organ).
11Three Unexpected Songs I. Io v’amo sol perchè voi siete bella
12Three Unexpected Songs II. Ore, fermate il volo
13Three Unexpected Songs III. Ecco mormorar l’onde
14Den første Sommerfugl
116Missa Brevis I. Kyrie
117Missa Brevis II. Gloria
118Missa Brevis III. Credo
119Missa Brevis IV. Sanctus
120Missa Brevis V. Agnus Dei
121My soul thirsts for God