MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

  2022
 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC
Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics

Alexandra-Quartet
Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


All HDTT reviews


Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews

 

 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom

jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 


Support us financially by purchasing from

Trace of Lament
Ginge Anvik (b. 1970)
Ostinat
Gaute Storaas (b. 1959)
Ex Alia Parte
A Nordic Year
Henrik Skram (b. 1973)
The Dinner
Emerge
Audun Sandvik (cello)
Norwegian Radio Orchestra/Thomas Klug
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra/Per Kristian Skalstad
rec. 2018/20, NRK Radio Concert Hall & Lille Sal Concert Hall, Oslo
LAWO CLASSICS LWC1234 [55]

Requesting a disc of unknown (to me) contemporary composers on the basis of some favourable thirty-second samples is a lottery. I have done it before, and been very disappointed by works that start promisingly and then descend into hard-edged modernism or uninspired dullness. So it is with great relief that I can report that this disc of works by three Norwegian film and TV composers is really quite excellent throughout, and is very likely to feature in my Recordings of the Year.

All five works feature a significant solo part for cello, played by fellow Norwegian Audun Sandvik, a name new to me. He is the driving force behind this album, asking the composers to write either a new work or adapt an existing one for him. The three shorter works - Ostinat, The Dinner and A Nordic Year - which are, in general, lyrical and moving, are placed around the two more substantial and modernish works, a programming choice that works very well.

Ginge Anvik has established a compositional career in Norway, despite his self-acknowledged struggles to read music (this might be seen by some as disqualifying him from writing anything decent, but Paul McCartney seemed to muddle through alright). Anvik describes his method as “trial and error”, and in the case of Ostinat, even more of a learning process as he had never written for solo cello. It is an adaptation of music written for a film (De naermeste – The Closest), which was scored for piano and strings. It is a beautifully romantic work, the cello supported by lush strings, and perhaps the most traditional of the five works. It is mostly slow and lyrical, with one surge of passion. This reflects the bleak story told in the movie, where a dark secret hides beneath an apparently sunny surface. The title might suggest something Philip Glass-like, but there is actually very little ostinato.

It is, therefore, ironic that the first movement of the next work – Gaute Storaas’s Ex Alia Parte – is ostinato on steroids. The title apparently derives from the structure of the work, where each of the three movements (this is the only multi-movement work on the disc) is given to a different register of the cello: the first to the middle, the second to the extreme high end, and the third to the low. The slow middle movement includes a very substantial cadenza, where Sandvik is able to demonstrate his considerable abilities, but always in the service of the music. Storaas‘s background is in jazz and rock music, and the hard-driven final movement has definite links to the latter. Don’t let that deter you – this is a very fine work, which many other composers would have labelled as a concerto. The other Storaas work - A Nordic Year – that closes the disc is very different. It is an extension of the main theme for a television series of the same name, rhapsodic and influenced by Swedish folk music. In the original version, the solo instrument is the nyckelharpa, a keyed fiddle, which became a challenge for composer and soloist when shifted to the cello. It is to their credit that the folk influences are totally convincing in this guise, and the piece is a quite glorious, almost ecstatic rhapsody.

Of the three composers, Henrik Skram has the most conventional background, with studies in composition at the Guildhall School in London. The Dinner is another work with a film origin (90 Minutes); the notes don’t indicate whether it has been adapted for the cello. If the rest of Skram’s music for the film is of the same quality as this, I should like to hear it. Emerge is an unusual work, a swirling mass of slow music, guided by the cello. The notes contributed by the composer talk of “musical situations where the perception of tonal grounding is constantly evolving”, which may (or may not) help you. His analogy to a huge flock of starlings creating cloud shapes that are constantly changing, is perhaps more useful. At over sixteen minutes, it possibly swirls for a little too long, but at no time does one feel that the music is going nowhere.

The composers have each contributed the notes on their own works, which is very welcome. Gaute Storaas writes “my main objective was to write something that Audun would like to play, and audiences … would like to hear”. I can only applaud that sentiment – too many new contemporary composers seem to think that melody, rhythm and harmony are worn-out clichés. These five works are excellent examples of what I feel modern classical music should be: respectful of five hundred years of tradition of Western classical music, but through instrumental, harmonic, textural and other devices, recognisably a work of now. What a shame that another work couldn’t have been found/written to fill the disc more.

The audio quality is very good, the cello sounds magnificent, though in the cadenza of Ex Alia Parte’s slow movement, there are some audible breathing noises from Sandvik. They are not enough to be distracting, but suggest that the microphone was perhaps a little close. Audun Sandvik is a name to look out for – I was very impressed by his playing, and the two Norwegian orchestras are very good as well.

Having not had high expectations for this disc, its excellence has been a wonderful surprise. For those whose preference in contemporary classical music requires the presence of the three elements that have been the basis of Western music for so long, this should be very welcome.

David Barker




Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews


all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk
Stanczyk Acousmatic Music

Oropesa

October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus