Knut Vaage (b1961) is an individualist with some of his composing roots in the regular beat of pop & rock, but with knowing awareness of Stockhausen and Cage as well as the earlier key figures of the 20th Century - something of the minimalists, but regularity always overlaid by unpredictable strands, and elements of improvisation which carry transformation 'beyond the limits of jazz' (Tron Jensen).
Three of these recent works date from 1998. Movements for a large sinfonietta-ensemble is 'a minimal paradox: repetitions with countless nuances'. Transit maintains a moderate dynamic level with material in continual flux, 'slowly entangling from something one has got entangled in - we are really in transit'. Jug Band Rag extends the jazz-inspired neo-classicism of Hindemith, suggesting the made-instruments of primitive bands. Hexa for string sextet (1995) begins with rhythmic, life-affirming power, but finishes with unexpected, pessimistic lethargy, 'laying down to die' in a hesitating end, reminding me of the equivocal conclusions of movements in Sibelius 4 and Nielsen 6.
An invigorating collection of recent compositions by
an active member of the new music fraternity in Norway, based in Bergen,
where the excellent, flexible BIT 20 Ensemble was founded in 1989 to
promote cultural exchange between diverse cultural groups and peoples.
It has appeared in London's Barbican Centre with its chief conductor
Ingar Bergby, and is engaged on a series of recordings of recent Norwegian
music, welcome as Norway is the Scandinavian country whose composers
are least known in UK. Good performance and production values make this
an attractive CD to seek out.
Peter Grahame Woolf