Nocturnal SingingSwedish Radio Choir & Symphony Orchestra,
Eric Ericson Chamber Choir &
Royal Swedish Navy Band, Fredrik Malmberg
Down through the years, THOMAS JENNEFELT has composed music for a wide variety of settings, but attention to vocal music is salient in his works, which extend from choral music to opera. Warning to the rich is an early and successful example of the former, and has been performed the world over since its inception in 1977. Other acclaimed choral pieces include O Domine and Dichterliebe (I–X), composed to the same poems by Heinrich Heine that Robert Schumann once used, and the original a cappella suite Villarosa Sequences sung to a self-created, Latinesque language.
A piece such as Villarosa Sequences certainly adds dimensions to Jennefelt’s creative repertoire. Besides being a singer himself, a former member of the prestigious Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, his vocal music demonstrate a deep interest in language. He often writes his own librettos and shows great sensitivity for the value of words.
His musical narratives are often populated by clear-cut characters and strong contrasts – displaying a rare talent for simple details that yield a great impact. Melodic lines and organic rhythms provide what is almost a visceral experience. The sweeping brush strokes of drama are parsed by detailed and intimate passages, such as in the melancholy Nocturnal Singing (2010) and the demanding, yet dreamy and sensuous Fyra operakörer/Four Opera Choruses (2016), taken from as-yet unwritten operas.
Many of his delicate works for choir have earned international popularity, with their abundant use of a full potential profusion of choral sonority, often underpinned by a distinct rhythm. These features, along with a decidedly free-tonal character imbued with a melodic lyricism, are also detectable in his instrumental works. Worthy of mention are the exquisite trumpet concerto Stockholm i maj /Stockholm in May (2000) and the elements of light in the orchestral piece In rilievo (2005).
Jennefelt’s multifaceted and vocally sensitive composition is particularly suited to musical drama. Notable amongst his operas are the full-length Gycklarnas Hamlet /The Jesters’ Hamlet (1989), the chamber opera Farkosten/ The Vessel (1994), to which he set his own libretto, and several other musical drama scenes for different sizes of orchestra. He also wrote Sport och fritid/Sports & Leisure for the Stockholm Royal Opera to a libretto by Niklas Rådström. The chamber opera Hos oss/At Our Place (2012), with a libretto by Magnus Florin, is very cutting-edge with its focus on authenticity, being performed in private apartments in Stockholm, and later, Berlin.
Recorded at Berwaldhallen in Stockholm, November 26–27, 2010
Producers: Jan B Larsson and Cynthia Zetterqvist, Swedish Radio
Editing and mixing: Cynthia Zetterqvist
Fyra operakörer / Four Opera Choruses
Recorded at Konserthuset in Stockholm, October 24–26, 2016
Recording Producer: Jens Braun, Take5 Music Production
Recording Engineer: Per Sjösten, Sound Processing
Assiting Engineer: Torbjörn Samuelsson, Sampling Factory
Additional editing and Mixing: Per Sjösten at Sound Processing Studio
Pyramix DAW & Horus with High Resolution AD-Converters
Mastering: Per Sjösten at Sound Processing Studio
Mastered for iTunes by Per Sjösten, Sound Processing Studio, firstname.lastname@example.org
Translation: Ingrid Eng, Thomas Jennefelt
Text Editor: Karin Ekedahl
Cover Photo: M.L. Arduengo / Adobe Stock
Booklet Photos: Jon Leck (p 1), Benjamin Ealovega (p 11, left), Jurek Holzer (p 11, right). Kristian Pohl (p 13, left), Jan-Olav Wedin (p 13, right), Julian Hargreaves (p 14, left), Jörgen Ragnarsson (p 14, right).
Graphic Design: Jocke Wester
Executive Producers: Bo Ejeby and Per Sjösten
Two of the finest choirs in northern Europe are heard on this new recording celebrating the distinctive but entirely natural voice of Thomas Jennefelt.
‘We need the night, it is a sanctuary’, writes Jennefelt. ‘At night…things we are saying in daylight are singing in us.’ Nocturnal Singing (2010) was commissioned by the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, of which Jennefelt was once a member, and dedicated to its erstwhile founder. It is a virile yet melancholy statement of belief in the power of the collective human voice, with no recourse to words, which is full of Jennefelt’s trademark clarity and his alluring combination of musical intimacy and sweep. This meticulous performance was made by another choir founded by Ericson, the Swedish Radio Choir, which is joined by its sister symphony orchestra under one of the most sought-after conductors of our time, Andrew Manze.
Some of the sensuality that finds its way into Nocturnal Singing is heard in the more obviously theatrical Four Opera Choruses, written in 2016 for ‘as yet unwritten operas.’ We hear yet more strong contrasts and clear narratives, but always music that is born of the voice despite its complexity and theoretical rigor. This performance from the Eric Ericsson Chamber Choir and Royal Swedish Navy Band under Fredrik Malmberg unleashes all the inherent drama in Jennefelt’s scores.
November 29, 2017