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BUGGE WESSELTOFT

Everybody Loves Angels

ACT 9847 - 2

 

 

 

  1. Es sungen drei Engel

  2. Bridge Over Troubled Water

  3. Koral

  4. Angel

  5. Reflecting

  6. Morning Has Broken

  7. Salme

  8. Blowing In The Wind

  9. Angie

  10. Locked Out Of Heaven

  11. Let It Be

    Bugge Wesseltoft - Piano

    The Norwegian pianist, composer and producer Bugge Wesseltoft is an intriguing figure. Now 53 years of age, he has been a professional musician since his late teens. Coming, initially, from a musical background (his father Erik was a jazz guitarist), he includes in his C.V. periods of experience with groups in the pop, rock and jazz traditions. The jazz element includes working with compatriots Arild Andersen and Jan Garbarek and as part of numerous other collaborations. In addition, he has also been involved with the techno and dance music scenes. In 1997, he founded his own Jazzland label, the prelude to a successful series of recordings. In that same year, his first acoustic solo piano album for ACT, It's Snowing On My Piano, was released. A selection of Christmas songs and folk melodies, it was to achieve the highest sales in the label's history. Everybody Loves Angels represents a return to the peace and tranquility which characterised that earlier disc. As the liner notes put it, he found ' himself attracted to the idea of recording music which would restore quietness to times in which everything is getting inexorably louder'. The setting for the session was the largest wooden church in Norway, the LofotKatedralen.

    The results have a rare beauty. The material chosen lends itself to Wesseltoft's innate sensitivity and delicacy of touch. There are songs drawn from the world of popular song and of rock music but also a trio of more traditional pieces arranged by the artiste, plus a short melody of his own. The appealing Jimi Hendriz number, Angel, whilst a gentle, engaging exploration of the theme, yet conveys more urgency than some of the other tracks. I rated this one highly. Not far behind for quality are Dylan's Blowing In The Wind and the Mick Jagger/Keith Richard composition, Angie. Blowing In The Wind receives a creative interpretation and is taken at a slower pace than the original. Angie posseses an understated gospel swing to it. I also appreciated Wesseltoft's treatment of the Bruno Mars more recent hit, Locked Out Of Heaven, another fine melody played with suitable flair by the pianist. Paul Simon's Bridge Over Troubled Water is subdued, focussed, and again with a touch of gospel. Another popular song (actually a hymn), Morning Has Broken, is wrongly attributed to Cat Stevens. Stevens had an enormous success with his recording of it, but it it is, in fact, a traditional Gaelic melody known as Bunessan. The lyrics were added by Eleanor Farjeon. Still, I'm sure that won't detract from the listener's enjoyment of it! The contemplative Salme sounded like another hymn tune. Since the Danish composer, listed here, was a church organist, it probably is. While we're on this theme, the beautiful Koral is not, as the credits tell us, by Johann Sebastian Bach although the great composer arranged the melody as part of the St. Matthew Passion. Hans Leo Hassler wrote the music to accompany a secular love song in about 1600. As might be expected, it is played with finesse and reverence.

    The pianist's own melody, Reflecting, is easy on the ear but very brief. I would have appreciated further development. The Lennon and McCartney classic, Let It Be, is initially rendered straightforwardly, before a trip into the realms of imagination which, however, never completely loses touch with the source material. Whether this album can repeat the success of It's Snowing On My Piano remains to be seen. What is certain is that the consistent mood of meditative reflection satisfies the ambition of this accomplished musician to produce an album resonant with peace and harmony.

    James Poore

 


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