Kielland's death defying recording

Beate Kielland's strong tone is perfectly matched by Sergej Osadchuk on piano in this collection of haunting odes to dying

Title: 'Come Away Death'
 Finzi, Korngold, Mussorgsky, Ratkje & Sibelius Marianne
Repertoire: Various 
Artists: Beate Kielland (mz), Sergej Osadchuk (piano)
Rating:  4/5
Genre: Vocal
Label: 2L 2L-064-SACD

The Music: Mussorgsky’s 1875 settings of four poems on death concludes an album on that theme. Shakespeare’s musing from Twelfth Night inspires three versions of brevity and simplicity. Sibelius’ is in Swedish. Ratkje’s 2008 composition HVIL (rest) is a powerful, mostly tunelessly chanted work, warning of the death of the planet. 

The Performance: Kielland sings with plaintive, strongly appealing tone throughout the disc. She is equally at home in Mussorgsky and Ratkje. Her voice perfectly adopts Death’s terrifying charm as she lullabies a sick child, woos a feverish girl, swings a lost and inebriated peasant, and fanfares a soldier. As dedicatee of HVIL, she has the measure of its spectral whisperings, percussive repeated consonants and burning intensity on long-held fortissimo tones. Just occasionally she oversings and distorts her purity. Pianist Osadchuk is at all times a sympathetic partner and an expressive equal in the Rakje. 

The Verdict: This is a surprisingly compelling album, despite Kielland’s trite contribution to the notes. She should stick to singing, which here puts her on the map. 

Want More? Gerald Finley and Julius Drake perform the Mussorgsky in a memorable concert preserved on the Wigmore Hall label (WHLive 0025). The best orchestral version is by bass Anatoly Kotcherga with the Berlin Phil under Abbado (Sony SK 66276).