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, fastRead more 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.
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.
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.