Knut Nystedt was the most influential composer and choral educator in Norway. Deeply influenced by Gregorian chant and Palestrina, he studied composition with Aaron Copland. He has instructed several generations of conductors and composers, and his stylistic ideas can be discovered throughout contemporary choral repertoire. Knut Nystedt is probably best known for his highly imaginative piece Immortal Bach (1988).

In his Stabat Mater, composed in 1986, the emotional weight of the text is divided between choir and cello. While the singers act as a turba (a chorus of the people), sometimes as violent commentators, sometimes as quiet bystanders, the solo cello symbolizes the emotion and pain of the man on the cross.   It’s a stark, powerful piece and though the musical language is accessible it’s certainly not a comfortable listening experience - nor should it be.

Ryan Turner

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