> NORDHEIM Violin music [JW]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)






Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Arne NORDHEIM (b 1931)
Complete Violin Music

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
Duplex for Violin and Cello
Partita fur Paul

Peter Herresthal (violin)
Oystein Sonstad (cello)
Mats Claesson (electronics)
Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
Eivind Aadland conductor
Recorded Stavanger Concert Hall November 2000 (Concerto), Lanna Church, Sweden June 2001 (Duplex) and Lindesmannsalen, Oslo April 1997 (Partita)
BIS CD 1212 [61.39]


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Nordheim is seventy and, as ever on such occasions, this provokes thought as to his musical horizons and compositional direction. His rebellion against Norwegian conservatism in the early post-war years is as well known as his embracing of electronic music, first encountered during a Parisian stay in 1955. Indeed features of inheritance and rebellion have remained with him ever since and this disc is a paradigm of this seeming paradox.

Which is not to ascribe to the carefully named Concerto for Violin and Orchestra intimations of the Janus-faced. This is uncompromising and frequently granitic music but it is also music of enormously colouristic skill. Nordheim uses three percussion groups greatly multiplying the potential for increased instrumental sonorities. Felicities of a chamber music intimacy abound and co-exist with brass blocks of sound of glowering ferocity. The one movement thirty-minute span of the work encompasses explosive violence and moments of what one can only call malevolent stasis. Nordheim apparently once described the Concerto as "one long funeral song" and this compound of lament and lyricism is viscerally alive, not least in its almost frantic power, the frequently high lying solo part and the agitated orchestral clusters. The concerto is studded with such moments – listen at 12.14 to the oboe’s winding figure and surrounding dense brass and high woodwind, all perfectly balanced. Or at 23.41 listen to the solo violin’s intensified line – and Peter Herresthal’s correspondingly intensified vibrato usage – and to this affecting passage which is augmented by rich orchestral sonorities. Nordheim frequently has recourse to the syntax of late romanticism whilst putting it to his own highly distinctive use. Such characteristics act centrally in the music – the orchestral with the chamber, the avant-garde with the traditional, the explosive with moments of reflection, a single line augmented, amplified, released; blocks of sound and density with moments of almost crystalline clarity. In Nordheim’s case monumentality is modified by reflection.

Duplex was originally written in 1991 for violin and viola. In this version for violin and cello the very closely miked performance resounds orchestrally. Thunderous pizzicatos explode; timbral contrasts and those of register abound; dynamic contrasts are fully exploited; this is a vigorous and dynamic work and the composer twice uses the tempo marking Energico to emphasise the point. Sonstad matches Herresthal note for note – and gunshot pizzicato for gunshot pizzicato. The Partita für Paul was written for a Paul Klee exhibition. The five movements are named after five of Klee’s paintings. In their fine notes Peter and Harald Herresthal rightly draw attention in passing to the thematic resemblance to Ysaye. This is a fine and memorable piece – with scintillating left-hand pizzicatos, an affecting lyrical line in Schwebendes, imitative pizzicato effects in the harp piece (Nordheim is a rampant pizzicatist in solo string works) and also the use of a tape recorder. This is used with electronic delay to allow a multiple canon and conjures an extraordinary drizzling effect with a droning pedal note.

With BIS’s usual standards of excellence in matters of presentation and sound this is a highly recommended disc.

Jonathan Woolf


Return to Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.