Otto Olsson (1879 - 1964)
Requiem in G minor, Op. 13
Sylvia Lindenstrand (Soprano), Inger Blom (Alto), BjornHaugen (Tenor), Olle Skold (Bass)
Gustav Vasa Oratorio Choir, Royal Stockholm Opera Orchestra,
recording: May 16, 1993
Light, spirit, life, strength, sincere comfort, profound beauty – this amazingly mature composition, written when Otto Olsson was a mere twenty-three years old, has an undisputable place among the great sacred symphonic choral works.
Otto Olsson, while greatly under-appreciated outside of Sweden, is undeniably one of their greatest composers, especially in the arena of choral and organ composition. His works are regularly programmed in Sweden, and his work “Advent” is performed at virtually every church in Sweden on the first Sunday of Advent. His Requiem dates from early in his career, but is a fully mature work that deserves a wider audience. His compositional style is deeply rooted in the Romantic tradition – he constantly looked to the past for his inspiration.
An often dark and brooding work, the Requiem also has plenty of uplifting moments as well. The choral singing is just sublime, and the soloists appoint themselves quite admirably. One of the most striking moments comes at the conclusion of the Agnus Dei, when massed strings, soloists and choir give way to softly playing woodwinds; the choir begins to quietly chant, while tympani and strings softly fade to silence. The effect is simply breathtaking.
This disc was interesting to contrast to the Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio simply because it’s sourced from a digital recording, versus the analog tapes that most of the classic Proprius discs were recorded on. While I’m really impressed with Proprius’ transfers of analog material to SACD, this disc is equally impressive, and will offer a real challenge to your system. The wide dynamic range and often intense transients with massed voices, orchestra and organ will push many systems close to their limitations, so be careful not to crank the volume too much in quieter passages. Very highly recommended.
-- Tom Gibbs