Reviews for the album Mezzotints: Chamber Music by Ståle Kleiberg

[…] a pleasure from beginning to end, gathering some of the most beautifully played and appealing contemporary chamber and piano pieces you’re likely to hear. […] a whole disc that you can listen to straight through without tiring of it – as I’ve done several times now. How many 70-minute discs of new chamber music can you say that about? […]  Alluring, also, is the way Kleiberg’s personal blend of romantic and modern, old and new, reveals submerged connections. Notice, for instance, the refulgent glow and plangent glittering of his lovely piano nocturnes, ’Ruf und Nachklang’. They sound for all the world like impossibly perfect jazz improvisations yet use much the same language as Debussy’s dreamlike Images.
LEHMAN, American Record Guide

Ståle Kleiberg is an extraordinary composer from any angle you care to look at. He is not a slave to the high modernists — far from it as his music is tonally secure, though not beholden to any traditional systems—yet one hears echoes of the most advanced of modern musings in his work, but bent to his advantage and definitely subservient to it. […]  each of these works, whether solo, duo, or chamber are terrifically engaging from the start of each bar, dramatic, highly communicative, and exceptionally rewarding. Particularly intriguing are the solo pieces for violin and piano, each a marvelous summation of the energy and focus that the composer gives to the “completeness” of the individual instrument, and the possibilities of self-communication within that environs.
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition

In the case of Mezzotints, we get music for chamber ensemble and soloists that will continually pique your interest. Each work presents an amalgam of interesting concepts that is well executed by these fine players. This is a disc quite worthy of your attention and one that will make you anxious to hear more of Kleiberg’s compositions.
Lawrence D. Devoe, TheaterByte

Mezzotints kaller han sin nye CD/Blue Ray – mezzotint, grafikkunstens kammermusikk, de duse flatene bygget opp av uendelige sjatteringer i lyst og mørkt. Helt naturlig vil jeg si, siden hans egen kammermusikk er en kilde av små nyanser som går med instrumentene og i instrumentenes retning. […] det er en munnfull musikk, men likevel så nyansert variert at kjedsomheten ikke får tid til å ruinere noe som helst. […] det er Kleiberg – umisskjennelig, ekte, flertydig og mangfoldig. I en tid hvor sekundviseren spankulerer av sted som et stykke livløs, hoffmansk mekanikk, fremstår Kleibergs tid som en pust, en pust som også bærer angstsmerten i seg. […] Undring” er et farlig ord, det går an å ”undre” seg fullstendig vekk. Men her gjelder ordet, Ståle Kleiberg ”undrer seg på plass i et univers som er hans, nå er det mitt og i morgen er det kanskje ditt. Hvert øyeblikk føder det neste i en organisk prosess. Ikke minst i en innspilling av gull lydkvalitet og musikere som har musikken i hjertet.
Olav Egil Aune, Vårt Land

Ståle Kleiberg er mest kjent for sine orkester- og vokalkomposisjoner, ikke minst det Grammy-nominerte operaoratoriet David and Bathsheba. Kammer- og instrumentalverkene er mindre kjent, men et utvalg verk fra 1998 til 2013 blir her gjengitt i herlige fremføringer. […] Klavertrio nr. 2 er perfekt balansert for tre musikere, en sjelden prestasjon for moderne instrumenter og uten tvil platens høydepunkt, selv om kvartetten ligger hakk i hæl. Anbefales.
Guy Rickards, Klassisk Musikkmagasin

Read more

Reviews for the album Ståle Kleiberg: David and Bathsheba

Nominated for a GRAMMY in 2013

The soundstage is so big, and the atmosphere is so clear! Scarcely have I heard an orchestra sound so sumptuous and true-to-life – to the music. Kleiberg is a skillful composer, and he uses the instruments expertly. This music is worth your attention. The musicians are all terrific; flute, vibraphone, and celeste are prominent and the soloists are superb.
ESTEP, American Record Guide

Kleiberg is at his best when pairing the emotional import of librettist Jessica Gordon’s English text with gorgeously sinuous melodies and sleek, sumptuous arrangements, realized here with great aplomb by the Tõnu Kaljuste-led Trondheim Symphony Orchestra. […]these elements are upstaged by the opera’s natural effectiveness as a quintessential love-triangle. The sheer will of human nature and the undeniability of desire are the more vibrant forces both musically and dramatically, rather than any overt moral imperative representative of God’s supremacy.
Daniel J. Kushner, OPERA NEWS

A piece from an accomplished composer that treats a revered subject with great dignity and perception. […]one marvels at the beauteous sounds coming forth from the orchestra in a piece that is timed just about right and never loses interest.
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition

It is a beautiful score from beginning to end and there is an ethereal quality that envelops and exhilarates your ears.  This opera-oratorio is good enough to gain traction in today’s performance halls and I hope that it does so that larger audiences can enjoy it.
Lawrence D. Devoe, Blue-rayDefinition

Read more

Reviews for the album Treble & Bass: Concertos by Ståle Kleiberg

Nominated for a GRAMMY in 2009

If all contemporary violin concertos were as accessible as this, concert promoters would have an easier time of it.
Catherine Nelson, The Strad

In these two eminently engaging works, each lasting about 25 minutes, you don’t have to try hard to recall Sibelius (the organically evolving thematic ideas), or Shostakovich and Bartók (the sometimes sharply angular melodic lines and overtly irregular rhythms)–but as usual with the best composers, these apparent similarities are only that: Kleiberg’s fertile material and his skillful manner of developing it are entirely his own. He not only blazes a challenging but always accessible trail for his soloists, but he perfectly integrates the solo and orchestral voices into a seamless and very dynamic dialogue. […] Marianne Thorsen delivers a completely convincing, technically impeccable (and we assume, authoritative) performance that also leaves us impressed with Kleiberg’s artful, intelligent exploitation of the violin. And speaking of artful, intelligent exploitation–the Double Bass concerto (composed in 1999, six years before the Violin Concerto) offers a masterful juxtaposition of the instrument’s more often used (and abused) lower register with its almost cello-like upper range, and so for most of this dramatic and unusually lyrical work we forget the strangeness of the concept and just hear it as a viable, legitimate marriage of solo instrument and orchestra–absolutely no gimmick here. This is great stuff!
David Vernier, Classics Today

This music is of such transcendent beauty, words are inadequate to describe it. […] Ten seconds of the Violin Concerto are all it will take for you to be hooked, and you will spend the next 50 minutes simultaneously mesmerized by the music’s gorgeous outpouring. […] Romantic tapestries are woven on a modern loom that colors them in striking orchestral effects and often bold and imaginative harmonic and rhythmic reliefs. […] Five gold stars and more Kleiberg please.
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare

There’s never a dull moment in either of these eminently accessible works. Highly recommended.
Daniel Foley, The WholeNote

His Violin Concerto is as passionate as the concertos by Bloch and Walton … and as melodious. The emotions are grown-up and delve deep in a way that may also remind you of Vaughan Williams and Rózsa. The finale is hoarsely resinous, bluff, thrusting and heroically fervent. The soloist Marianne Thorsen is matched in passion and impressionistic panache by the Trondheimers and Daniel Reuss. The Double-Bass Concerto does not reek of that poisonous combination occasionally encountered in such works – novelty instrument put through its paces amid thin orchestral ideas. This, rather like the Vittorio Giannini and John Carbon works is fully fledged not a whit less seriously intentioned nor any less romantic. The expressive realm is somewhere between Vaughan Williams and Prokofiev and when I say ‘Prokofiev’ I mean early fantastic-romantic Prokofiev. There are some masterfully impressionist effects along the way including the whispered creaking insect voices of the string orchestra at 3:40 in the first movement. The Adagio is haunted by the voices of fanciful birds and by a kind of serene spirit. Throughout the work the double-bass avoids the bustling bluff yeoman spirit we might have feared. This work amounts to a real poem in three movements for this instrument which is treated as a dignified and even seductive singer rather than a gap-toothed buffoon. This is a concerto which happens to have been written for double-bass rather than a concerto written down to hackneyed preconceptions about the range and emotional depth of the double-bass. The notes are by Jim Samson who we know from a fine Kahn and Averill study of Szymanowski when that composer was far less fashionable than he is now. Do take this as a cue to purchase. I think you will want to move to the symphonies after this. Meantime immerse yourself in two confident and effusively romantic concertos.
Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

Read more

 

Reviews for the album Kleiberg: Requiem – for the victims of Nazi persecution

This is a work I found both beautiful and dignified, and, though the word may seem inappropriate, exciting, for it is extremely powerful with a momentum that is evident right from the start. Norwegian composer Ståle Kleiberg has succeded in writing a piece that is a fitting tribute to the victims of Holocaust; a piece that holds its head up high, without any over-sentimentalising of events which were so unspeakable they need nothing but a truthful telling. […] The words of the poems are cradled by some equally powerful music.  All the music is extremely effective in putting over the horror and poignancy of the events and is well played and sung by a clearly devoted band and choirs. This is a work that deserves to be heard, and it would be wonderful if it were programmed into this the 2005 Proms season. I thoroughly and unreservedly recommend that you listen to it.
Steve Arloff, MusicWeb International

The poem settings, delivered in turn by three excellent soloists, are sandwiched between mass movements. The first, powerfully sung by Catherine King, is a bitter and grating Jewish lament, pleading for remembrance and understanding. The lighter, but often steel-edged soprano of Noemi Kiss takes us through the more impassioned sort of grieveing that you would expect from the likefated gypsies. The music assumes a sorrowful gypsy flavor, complete with some devastating wailing. In the final setting, a feeling of hopeless resignation pervades the homosexual’s mostly quiet threnody […] Baritone Christian Hilz comes very close to plumbing the bottomless depths of human sorrow as he sings of the “lowest of the low”. Not even final liberation from the camps was a true release, as they went in a world that had not yet come to terms with “the love that dares not speak its name”. In largely tonal language, Kleiberg has managed to create a haunting, terrifying, and deeply thought-provoking synthesis of standard liturgy, modern poetry, and powerful music. […] All I can say is that this one moved me to the core and will remain one of the most vital and worthwhile artistic monuments to the victims of Nazi madness that I know.
KOOB, American Record Guide

Each of the three odd-numbered movements, III, V and VII represent one of the triangles the Nazis forced the populations of these groups to wear to identify themselves. Even-numbered movements II, IV and VI, ares sections of the standard Roman liturgy set in Latin. Movements I and II stand in mirror-image relationship to movements IX and X. This leaves only movement VIII, which unsettles the otherwise symmetrical balance. Why, I wondered at first, did Kleiberg disturb his nearly perfect arch, and with a text that also breaks the pattern? I think – and the interpretation is solely my own – that movement VIII (drawn from the Hebrew Psalms) is the center of gravity and the psychological, emotional and spiritual core of his work. […] All I can tell you is that Kleiberg has written some of the most incandescently lyrical music that has fallen on these ears in a very long time. […] impulses are sublimated to a style and spirit that are deeply and unapologetically Romantic in nature. This is 21st-century music that manages to employ many very modern techniques while making them sound beautiful and seductive. […] If you have read this far, you have surely gathered that I find this a profoundly moving work, and one that is profoundly worthy of your attention. The performance is exquisite, the recording outstanding, the booklet note a good read, and the music a good cry.
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare

Read more

 

Reviews for the album Ståle Kleiberg: The Bell Reef

Ståle Kleiberg, born in Stavanger in 1958 is a sensitive painter of nature, a creator of atmosphere, a teller of tales. His Lamento: Cissi Klein in memoriam, written for the 2000 – 1 season of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, illustrates the point: A Hebrew melody (Cissi Klein was a 13 year old girl taken from Trondheim to Auschwitzin 1942) is announced in the outset on solo violin and then threaded through what the booklet annotator Jim Samson (for it is he) calls for a series of symphonic meditations – some of them bringing music of considerable power. Kleiberg has an acute ear for the ebb and flow of the dramatic line […] though the second movement of the First Symphony is explicitly intended to represent a shipwreck, the second movement of the Kammersinfonie could equally well portray the power of the waves – and unlike the superficial swirl of Debussy’s La mer, the sense of power in Kleiberg, as in Bax, begins well below the waterline.
Martin Anderson, Tempo

The distinctive features of this music are the memorable thematic fragments that drive the structuring of each piece, the uninhibited, full-throated orchestral climaxes, and the high degree of technical competence in the composition and orchestration. […] The music exudes confidence, rather than local Nordic colour, and it’s certainly a brave achievement for any contemporary composer to communicate this directly with his audience, without recourse to minimal mysticism. No way are these sounds the work of a constipated artist. […] These three substantial pieces offer yet more evidence for the healthy, pluralistic growth of concert music in the last 15 years. Kleiberg has found his way to some form of calm musical optimism. I don’t know how he’s done it. […] The Bell Reef and its lesser companions lock into your memory like limpets, after just one or two hearings. This CD of warm-hearted, often briny orchestral sounds should sell by the shipload.
Paul Ingram Fanfare

What impresses me most is the relaxed – almost detached – control Kleiberg exerts over pacing. […] That contemporary music as romantic as Kleiberg’s can sound as fresh and genuine as it does astonishes me.
Mailman, American Record Guide

The Lamento describes an arc ascending from quiet writing to vehement protest and falling away into music box innocence and silence. It makes for a touching journey in a single movement. Lamento is most fastidiously and magically orchestrated. […] These are extremely impressionistic-melodic scores in which Kleiberg writings with natural fluency synthesises the heritage of Ravel and others to original effect. Recommended.
Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

One of the most satisfying and exciting symphonic releases in years. Those who bought Kleiberg’s Requiem on Simax last month have the appetizer; here is the main course!
Records International

Read more