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Light Divine
Aksel Rykkvin (treble)
Mark Bennett (trumpet & Artistic Director)
MIN Ensemble/Lazar Miletic
rec. 2017, Jar Church, Baerum, Norway
Sung texts with English translations enclosed

In October 2016 I reviewed the debut disc by then 13-year-old Norwegian treble Aksel Rykkvin. It had been recorded in January the same year. I was totally overwhelmed, made it a Recording of the Month and ended my review “If you are going to buy just one more CD this year, make sure that it is this one.” Since then Aksel has been hailed by experts and laymen alike, appeared in concert, on radio and TV in several countries and was even interviewed in Scandinavia’s biggest talkshow, ‘Skavlan’ and BBC Radio 3 ‘In tune’. Last summer, in July 2017 he once again went into the recording studio and set down the music on this issue. A month later his voice broke! Today he sings with a baritone voice, and we are eagerly waiting for him to resume his career with his ‘new’ voice. But in the meantime we can enjoy his vocal expertise in the six numbers on the new disc. Eternal Source of Light Divine was also on the first disc, and close scrutiny may reveal some changes in tone and approach, but basically it is the same voice we hear – and possibly some more maturity. But that was one of the fantastic things about his first disc: the artistic maturity! The beauty and brightness of his voice is immediately striking also here – even though I was prepared for it – and his shaping of the musical phrases is as masterly as ever.

His dramatic ability was also so impressive on the first disc. He sang Oberto’s aria Barbara! Io ben lo so from Alcina with such insight and expressivity, and here he delivers the recitative to Alla caccia (tr. 5) with dramatic conviction and rips of the aria Foriera la tromba with stunning coloratura. This is early Handel, from a secular cantata Diana Cacciatrice, possibly from 1707 when he was in Rome. The Albinoni aria was a pleasant surprise and what fluency he has in the florid singing! The composer is today best known for the celebrated adagio, which was actually composed by 20th century musicologist Remo Giazotto, possibly based on a fragment by Albinoni. That Albinoni was an excellent composer in his own right is obvious from this excerpt from one of his few preserved operas.

The vocal numbers from Rameau’s Castor et Pollux and Naïs are also excellent, and initially I was a little disappointed that he only was allowed these six numbers. However, these six numbers are six golden eggs and returning to them again will be a great pleasure. And the instrumental numbers are definitely stunning music. Most of the pieces are arranged by Mark Bennett and/or Aareskjold. No first name is given in the documentation. Mark Bennett is of course a brilliant trumpeter, and assisted by the excellent MIN Ensemble, based in the county of Nordland, he performs some really stimulating pieces, not always heard that frequently.

The Concerto HWV 331 will however be familiar to those who have heard Handel’s Water Music, and it is a perfect opening number to this disc, vital and life-enhancing. The Passacaille (tr. 3) is an example of Handel’s frequent self-borrowing. It is a movement from the Trio sonata in G, Op. 5 No. 5, and the melody for this movement is taken from the opera Radamisto. Philipp Jakob Rittler is hardly a household name today and he is scantly represented on recordings. He was a Roman-Catholic priest and composer, his extraction is not known but he dies in Olmütz (Olomouc in Czech) where he also was active. The Ciaccona is an utterly charming piece, which I certainly will return to.

The five orchestral pieces by Rameau are little gems. Best known is no doubt the wonderfully atmospheric Entrée d’Abaris from Les Boréades, his last opera, which was never performed during the composer’s lifetime, and the first modern performance was not until 1965. The Ritournelle from Hippolyte et Aricie is brief but attractive, the Ballet figure et Air from Zoroastre a winner and the Chaconne from Les Indes galantes, also well-known, is a substantial piece, but the real hit is Orage from Platée. This is virtuoso playing on the highest possible level that should win new admirers to Rameau’s music.

By all means buy this disc for the last opportunity to hear Aksel Rykkvin as a treble, but lend an ear to the fabulous playing of the instrumental music as well. You will be richly rewarded.

Göran Forsling

George Frideric HANDEL (1685 – 1759)
1. Concerto in F, HWV 331 [4:18]
2. Eternal Source of Light Divine, HWV 74 [3:10]
3. Passacaille from Sonata in G, Op. 5 No. 5 HWV 399 [4:54]
4. What Passion Cannot Music Raise And Quell, HWV 76 [8:18]
5. Alla caccia (Diana cacciatrice) HWV 79 [6:25]
Tomaso ALBINONI (1671 – 1751)
6. Vien con nuova orribil guerra (from La Statira) [5:33]
Philipp Jakob RITTLER (c. 1637 – 1690)
7. Ciaccona à 7 [4:58]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683 – 1764)
8. Ritournelle (from Hippolyte et Aricie) [1:50]
9. Entrée d’Abaris (from Les Boréades) [3:47]
10. Tristes apprêts (from Castor et Pollux) [6:20]
11. Ballet figure and Air (from Zoroastre) [2:21]
12. Orage (from Platée) [2:33]
13. Je ne sais quell ennui me presse (from Naïs) [3:37]
14. Chaconne (from Les Indes galantes) [5:43]



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