Silent Earth for choir and orchestra, sketches alternately lush pastoral evocations of our planet, a formerly verdant place, characterised by languorous flute and muted jazz-inflected brass, bumping up against a more ominous underbelly of an earth abandoned, left only to prevailing winds and desolation. These shapeshifting undertones characterise an earth in the wake of destruction.

In an unsettling manner Rehnqvist’s colourations switch at liminal speed, oscillating between a variety of sophisticated sonic images. Her orchestration is both unique and breathtaking.

Considering he will have stepped quickly in, Leenaars demonstrated an equal precision in control and understanding of the mutable forces Rehnqvist had let loose under his baton. 

Rehnqvist’s close involvement with choirs has shaped her knowledge and distinctive grip on writing for ensemble voices. Equal acuity is shown in the positioning of these ensemble voices within, adjacent or at a distinct tangent to the texture of orchestral writing.

The level of detail in articulation and colouring in the vocal writing conjured in the work blends with, or offsets exquisitely, similar subtlety of timbral shading in the orchestra. Most notable in Silent Earth, voices used almost percussively in the shaping of words, dovetail and merge intricately, counterbalancing distinctive percussion techniques.

Unusual large-scale textures which reduce, roar and topple from one part of the podium to the other, Silent Earth is at points innocently joyous, desolate, majestic and towards its conclusion, haunting – like the echo of a thought, of a planet that once was.

– Rose Dodd, 1 feb 2022, BachTrack

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