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Karin Rehnqvist
1957 -
K. Rehnqvist
Karin Rehnqvist (21/08/1957), a female Swedish composer. She is one of Sweden’s most wellknown composers, whose music is both frequently and widely performed. She has composed chamber, orchestra and vocal music and works gladly with unusual and intermedial concert forms. A characteristic feature which has often been mentioned in connection with Karin Rehnqvist’s music is the cross-fertilisation between art music and folk music. The folk music element is an integral part of her music and is not just used for effect or for nostalgic reasons. Between 1976 and 1991 Karin Rehnqvist was the leader of the choir, Stans Kör. This resulted in a close relationship to vocal music and also roused her interest in different approaches to concert performances. 2000 -2004 Karin Rehnqvist is composer in residence with Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Svenska Kammarorkestern in co-operation. For them she composed the much performed Arktis Arktis!, inspired from a polar expedition in the summer of 1999. Karin Rehnqvist has received many prizes for her music; In 1996 the Läkerol Arts Award "for her renewal of the relationship between folk music and art music". The same year she was awarded the "Spelmannen" prize by the daily newspaper Expressen, and in 1997 she received the Christ Johnson Prize for Solsången. In 2001 she was awarded the Kurt Atterberg Prize. Karin Rehnqvist lives in Stockholm, and is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.
Requiem aeternam
Period:21st century
Composed in:2008
Musical form:free
Text/libretto:Latin mass + other texts
Requiem aeternam (2008), for 2 Sopranos, choir, percussion and orchestra.
Requiem aeternum co-commissioned by the SCO and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, based on several different texts, it doesn't follow the standard liturgy, but rather creates its own to examine death. As the composer states in her notes for the piece, "No one knows what happens after death. We may believe. We may speculate. But no living human being can say." The music cries out to understand not only death, but God in relation to it. The soloists, Helena Ek and Maria Koehane are both soaring Sopranos who can reach incredible highs and yet maintain a richness in the lower registers which adds depth to the music. Rehnqvist uses these voices with masterful effect, beginning the piece with a solo voice lilting over the audience. Eventually the voice is joined by winds, which melodically build the tension as the words of the piece explores birth, the creation of life. The next movement is a duet in plainsong, calling to one another across the hills, while the strings hum threateningly underneath, giving the movement an ancient feel. The SCO chorus is first heard in the requiem aeternam at the end of the second movement. Rehnqvist uses the strings doubling the voices to give accent to the sound, particularly with the basses and the double basses rumbling in their lower register. The Kyrie eleison uses the traditional words, and starts with a bass flute with a somber mood. Eventually this changes to a sense of pleading, "Lord, have mercy" as if to say, "If you exist, then please have mercy." The fourth movement uses the same words as the first with a return to the soft solo voice, accompanied by a harp. From here the Requiem begins its ascent into dread, grief, anger, acceptance and eventually hope. Rehnqvist has an excellent command of the voice as we hear elements of folk music in the solo voice, sometimes singing in their lower register and at other times soaring at the top of the vocalists range. The choir often had moments where parts were singing in canon pitting voices against each other a semitone apart and yet never feeling like the music was uncomfortably discordant, quite the opposite, the close chords built tension but also gave the piece a rich harmony that was truly beautiful. The Sanctus started with accented whispers, startling and effective, while the Libre me used the chorus and all its strength to create a sense of anticipation and pleading. But in the end, we are left with quiet solace, wanting more and yet knowing it's over. Requiem aeternum is an incredible addition to the canon of existing requiems. When the piece is performed in Sweden it will be paired with Faure's Requiem which should provide a wonderful companion to the music of Rehnqvist. While both pieces are approximately thirty-five minutes in length, if anything, Rehnqvist's could be much longer. It soars, but never seems to get quite high enough or stay there long enough to really satiate our desire to hear more. It's an amazing piece of music, and perhaps, like life, it ends too soon.