This is a most interesting and welcome issue of fairly recent
Norwegian music for one and two violins.
Sommerfeldt’s work is a brief four movement piece, recalling
folk fiddling, and it has an extrovert, outgoing, and, indeed,
outdoors, feel. Stig Nilsson studied the work with the composer
so we can be assured that this is as authentic a performance
as we could hope for. It makes a great opening for the disk
and prepares one for what is to follow.
Ketil Hvoslef is the son of composer Harald Saeverud – Hvoslef
is his mother’s maiden name – and he has an impressive catalogue
of works to his credit. Violino Solo is a compendium
of things which really suit a violin – long singing lines, fast
runs, left hand pizzicato and so on. It’s a wild fantasy in
one, very long, movement, totally abstract and very satisfying.
I first heard of Wolfgang Plagge when his Trombone Concerto
was recorded by 2L (2L35) and I am very pleased to hear another
of his works. This is delightfully quirky; pleasant discussion,
ominous silence, argument, morose introspection, ending with
a wild dance, reminiscent of the Hardanger folk fiddle. The
two fiddles interact and go their own ways in a kaleidoscope
of sound. Most enjoyable.
Kjell Mørk Karlsen’s Fantasia Religiosa is a very serious
piece, as befits the title. It exploits the long unaccompanied
line and the various harmonic possibilities of a non-harmonic
instrument. Perhaps it is a trifle too long, at nearly 13 minutes,
for the material isn’t memorable, and what there is, is far
too similar in content. The close recording, which I found acceptable
in the earlier works, became irritating.
Bjørn Kruse’s Memento mori, although serious in
intent, finds time to exploit playing techniques and compositional
byways. Through-composed, with no recognisable construction,
the work hangs together well and the material is well developed
as the music progresses. It also sounds to be very well written
for the instrument.
Terje Bjørklund’s Three Contrasts is a serious interchange
between the two instruments, and perhaps this is its weakness,
for there is little give and take in the music; it’s all much
of a muchness. As with Karlsen’s Fantasia Religiosa the
close recording becomes irritating and tires the ear very quickly
due to the same continuous sound.
Despite my misgivings about a couple of the pieces I am happy
to recommend this disk as a fine example of contemporary, or
as near as can be, music from Norway. There is some splendid
stuff here and the father and son duo play superbly, and with
great authority. There is more than sufficient here to make
the purchase of the disk worthwhile. The sound is very good
and clear, but I wish that there had been some space between
me and the players. They are so closely recorded that it is
almost as if they are sitting in my lap and there is no sense
of the acoustic of the church in which it was recorded. The
presentation is exemplary: a gatefold sleeve with the booklet
attached to the left-hand cover.