MIC's Listen to Norway series continues with Ståle Kleiberg's Requiem for the Victims of Nazi Percecution
The requiem is the medieval mass for the dead. It is constituted by certain fixed elements that structure the work and compel the music that fills this form.
When Norwegian composer Ståle Kleiberg received a commission for a large choral work from the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim he decided to write a requiem and to make it the finale of his trilogy on war, of which parts one and two had been completed during the nineties. Thus he chose to compose a mass in memory of the victims of Nazi persecution. After the model of Benjamin Brittan’s remarkable “War Requiem” Kleiberg decided to ask the Glasgow poet Edwin Morgan to write three English language sections (poems) that would be interwoven into the Latin of the requiem’s traditional parts. The sections are each dedicated to one group of victims: Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals.
When the soon-to-be director of music at the Washington Cathedral Michael McCarthy witnessed the requiem’s premiere, he was so impressed that he decided he wanted to bring it to America. Thus on September 11th 2004 Kleiberg’s mass was performed in Washington Cathedral in commemoration of the victims of 9/11. The performance was broadcast across America and recorded. The result is the disc here presented.
International critics have given its release much attention and praised it for succeeding in the most ambitious musical endeavour imaginable: a mass to honour the dead and persecuted from the most cataclysmic event in the history of mankind.
Kleiberg’s requiem has been described as dignified as well as extremely powerful, and thus true to its subject matter. Edwin Morgan’s poetry and Kleiberg’s music make up a work that holds its head up high, choosing truth rather than over-sentimentality in expressing this the most overwhelming of subject matters.