Arve Tellefsen has
always interspersed his heavy-duty espousal of the Scandinavian
repertoire with lighter fare. So there have been albums with
names such as Arco, Intermezzo and Stille Natt
to leaven the serious work. And what work! How much the poorer
we would be without this splendid musician’s discs devoted to
Nordheim, Valen, Bull, Larsson, Nielsen, Elling, Svendsen, Berwald,
Sinding, Sjøgren, Wirén, Aulin and a number of others – this
to say nothing of the standard repertoire. How much sparser
the discography would be without Tellefsen.
Here he kicks back
his shoes. Forget Valen’s pocket concerto, dismiss thoughts
of Dag Wirén. The beaming visage of the grizzled fiddler is
surrounded by cherubic and smiling faces drawn from the Nidarosdomens
Guttekor. This is a “choir, orchestra and solo violin” disc
that demands nothing except enjoyment and that makes no demands
beyond the succulent. Nothing wrong with that.
The notes are minimal
and my Norwegian is non-existent but I can tell you that the
orchestrations are by Knut Anders Vestad and that some of the
arrangements come from Oivind Westby. That said there’s not
a huge amount of scribing to be done here. Tellefsen has an
extended run on that incongruous advertisement favourite Lascia
Chio Pianga (harpsichord, some decoration) but modestly
abstains from the solo-choir-orchestral arrangement of Ave
Maria. The problem is to integrate the violin into the choral
and orchestral fabric and this often involves initial choral
statements, a violin “middle eight” and a return to the warm
textures of choir and orchestra.
The choral repertoire
here is traditional – broadly Rutteresque. There’s even one
piece by Rutter himself, sung in Norwegian. Tellefsen has a
hand in the Casals arrangement – warm and sympathetic. There
are times when he’s got little to do but twiddle away. He’s
rather redundant in the Parry, simply adding a few decorative
fills and there are perhaps too many times when this happens.
He takes the central section of You’ll Never Walk Alone
and the choral and orchestral forces do the honours in the outer
ones, though the Kop on a Saturday afternoon has little to fear
in matters of heft.
for Summer evenings – glass in hand, the sky cloudless blue. And
don’t worry what Norman Lebrecht would make of it all.