Rypdal's 'Lux Aeterna' is a sort of hour-long vision of nature and light, a...
Fiona Talkington 2002
Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal doesn't do "small-scale". He's a performer of monumental musical aspiration, whether it's in his awesome guitar frenzies, or in his own compositional vision.
His Lux Aeternais a sort of hour-long vision of nature and light, a five-movement work for three soloists (Rypdal himself, trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, organist Iver Kleive), soprano Åshild Stubø Gundersen and the Bergen Chamber Ensemble with conductor Kjell Seim.
The commission came from Norway's Molde Jazz Festival, one of the world's most remarkable hotbeds of music-making, which nurtured the early days of many ECM luminaries and which continues to breathe fire into the newer generations of Nordic jazz. Festival Director Thorstein Granly had wanted something along the same lines as Rypdal's earlier Double Guitar Concerto, with its anguished and lyrical slow movement so hard to get out of the mind.
What Rypdal came up with is an intense personal celebration of nature and light, and of the mountains of his childhood. "This sense of belonging to nature - you can feel it in everything I do". He acknowledges Ligeti's Lux Aeterna and the idea that the eternal light of the title underpins whatever beliefs the listener might hold.
If you're looking for some vintage Rypdal guitar playing you'll find he features only sparingly but the first notes of the trumpet reach for the stars themselves, the high brass colours taking over where the guitar cannot go. The music in the first three movements is reflective, sometimes so gently positive it's almost too good to be true, but then standing by the waterfront in Molde looking across to Rypdal's cathedral of mountains, it's hard to believe anything is wrong with the world at all.
Rypdal in full flight is reserved for the organist in the fourth movement, and afficianados of Rypdal's earlier works will recognise the take-no prisoners approach, disturbing, energising music which resolves in the state of bliss of the final Lux Aeterna itself.
This is music to let flow in the inner reaches of the soul.
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