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Dominy Clements
MusicWeb International, December 2012

One of those recordings which haunts the memory and brings you back, wondering, ‘was it really like that…?’ Earworm alert for the sensitive—this may end up inhabiting your dreams more than you expected. © 2012 MusicWeb International



Joshua Rosenblum
Opera News, November 2012

…Danish composer Bent Sørensen…created this “new” Requiem by juxtaposing individual movements of Ockeghem’s Missa Pro Defunctis with requiem movements of Sørensen’s own…Sørensen has interpolated the occasional passage of Gregorian plainchant, as an example of the raw material that served as the springboard of inspiration both for himself and for his illustrious fifteenth-century predecessor. These sections knit together further the ancient and the modern.

Some of Sørensen’s denser harmonic progressions are mind-bending; the clusters seem to melt into one another, often with microtonal inflections. The “Benedictus,” in particular, lingers in the mind as extraordinary. Another Sørensen movement, the concluding “In Paradisum,” truly sounds like music from another world, in which the tonal system has been refracted through a four-dimensional lens. Sørensen seems to summon Gyorgy Ligeti’s choral music as a spiritual antecedent, but Sørensen’s comes off as even more precise and more carefully calibrated in its dissonances.

Juxtaposing Ockeghem with Sørensen makes the listener hear each of them differently, to their mutual benefit. Ancient or modern, it all sounds luscious, especially in these impeccable performances by the amazingly accurate and sumptuously blended singers of Ars Nova Copenhagen, expertly conducted by Hillier. Highly recommended. © 2012 Opera News Read complete review




Barry Witherden
BBC Music Magazine, October 2012

Ars Nova Copenhagen bring out the subtle colours of Sørensen © 2012 BBC Music Magazine



Dominy Clements
MusicWeb International, July 2012

…this is Johannes Ockeghem’s Missa pro defunctis, integrated with newly composed movements by Bengt Sørensen to create what is, if not an entirely new piece, certainly a very new and fresh way of connecting the new in the old, with the old in the new. This is an extension of Paul Hillier’s more frequent combining of contemporary with early music in his programming, and here he has brought in Bengt Sørensen to complete ‘the bits which are missing’ in Ockeghem’s work.

Ockeghem’s Missa is full of moments which can wrong-foot you into thinking that you are hearing something contemporary. Harmonic shifts and quasi-romantic melodic lines abound, and just listen to some of those startling female-only passages in the Kyrie. The Graduale flows from Sørensen’s Lacrimosa as if from the same fearlessly expressive source, and there are moments in the Offertorium which are truly overwhelming.

Sørensen’s contributions are idiomatically sensitive and integrate by way of atmosphere, but are by no means a soft-pedalled imitation of ancient style. The opening Responsorium has plenty of reassuring parallel intervals and open harmonies, but immediately alerts the ear to what is to come, with close harmonies and strange dissonances which have inner resolution, but no ultimate cadence. The central Recordare Jesu pie in the Sequentia is one of those impossibly melting creations which make your hairs stand up with some kind of prehensile spiritual angst. Separated by plainchant, the first two minutes of the following Lacrimosa is truly beautiful: a moment of suspended time where the tears fall, but never reach the ground. There are moments of restrained drama here and in the Benedictus, where vibrato is used as a textural effect, making the air itself ring like a Tibetan bowl. The entire Requiem cycle closes with Sørensen’s In Paradisum, is the most extensive and in some ways the most far reaching, as the booklet notes describe, “with cluster-like chordal effects that are thinned out, recondensed and break like waves against each other.”

This is one of those recordings for which you close your eyes and give yourself entirely over to a very rich musical experience indeed. Paul Hillier’s Ars Nova Copenhagen is a remarkable collection of vocalists for which this work is tailor-made, and the music is brought to life in a way which shoots straight into the soul and lingers long in the mind. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review




Marcus Karl Maroney
ConcertoNet.com, June 2012

Paul Hillier and Bent Sørensen certainly deserve credit for bravery and originality. The idea of intermingling Ockeghem’s indisputably seminal setting of Requiem mass…with Sørensen’s recent settings of more contemporary additions to that Catholic ceremony is audacious and, in the end, touchingly successful. This is an excellent disc showing that, even in the course of half a millennium, there is a stylistic continuum in the greatest art music that, when respected and acknowledged, can throw into stunning relief the seemingly familiar.

The expertly controlled stasis of the Lacrimosa is extremely moving…

Sørensen’s closing In Paradisum begins simply enough, with strict imitative polyphony, and then warps through the composer’s prism into eery, rhythmically complex waves of sound, reaching a rich resonant high point with some gorgeously placed sonorities in the extreme lows of the chorus, returning again into a more “simple” overlapping of imitative polyphony at the end.

Paul Hillier and Ars Nova Copenhagen are wholly expert in the performance of the hybrid work. The recorded sound, described with a detailed diagram in the liner notes, is a model of clarity and balance and, even with two recording sessions separated by five years, the performance sound seamless. What is a surety is the quality of the performance and the emotional content that bends and tantalizes the mind in just the right proportions. An excellent addition for fans of Ockeghem as well as those who admire the a cappella works of Pärt and Schnittke… © 2012 ConcertoNet.com Read complete review



Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, June 2012

Sorensen turns to the past in this fine new issue masterminded by Paul Hillier, who suggested Sorensen gather five fragments of requiem movements composed between 1995 and 2005, calling it Requiem In Time And Space.” Hillier then combined these with Missa pro defunctis written five centuries ago by Johannes Ockeghem, heard on this wonderful new disk. It is surprising how well the two composers mesh, and of course the performance under Hillier’s inspired direction is magnificent. This is a beautiful recording of music that will be new to most listeners. © 2012 ClassicalCDReview.com Read complete review



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, May 2012

Bent Sorensen interjects dissonances, extensions and structural anomalies into the counterpoint for his movements, subtly, so that the already ethereal beauty of the music is given an additional expressive dimension; the harmonic implications of the lines are expanded while the modern ear is satisfied.

It’s a very captivating performance and a moving experience. Ockeghem’s mastery, Sorensen’s masterful extension of the style and the sheer beauty of the Ars Nova Copenhagen’s collective voices make for an almost painfully ravishing result.

It is an eerie juxtaposition and a sonic cornucopia of sensuous brilliance. I kid you not. Highly recommended. © 2012 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2012

The modern Danish composer, Bent Sorensen, ‘completes’ the 15th century Requiem by Johannes Ockegham to create a new and extended score. At the time of the original score, the Requiem Mass, as we hear it today, was much shorter and did not include the Dies Irae that became an essential part during the days of Mozart. The idea to ‘flesh out’ Ockegham’s great score with the requiem movements Sorensen had composed between 1985 and 2005 came from Paul Hillier, conductor of Ars Nova Copenhagen. How does it all marry together? Well, at an aural glance it is very smooth, Sorensen setting the scene with an opening Responsorium before the service begins with Ockeghem’s Introitus. On closer examination the harmonies are often very different, particularly when, with a final jolt, you reach In paradisum, though by using plainchant intermingled with his own music Sorensen has brought a further ‘authentic’ additive. The transitions are made as smooth as you could achieve by having the same and very distinctive quality from Ars Nova, a group whose intonation and balance is exemplary. I would want the unadorned Ockeghem—one of my favourite works of the Early Music era—but as a completely ‘new’ score, this is an interesting experiment, beautifully recorded and presented with excellent programme notes. © David’s Review Corner






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