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Aurora

Contemporary Norwegian Music

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Variations over Variations

Variations over Variations


Janson, A:

Variations over Variations

Mikalsen:

Songr

Ratkje:

Paragraf 112

Vaage:

Mylder


Tine Thing Helseth (trumpet)

Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Miguel Harth-Bedoya

The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, featuring soloist star trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth, with brand new Norwegian music! Alfred Janson, Knut Vaage, Maja Ratkje and Jan Erik Mikalsen have written for the orchestra, including a brand new trumpet concerto. Variations over Variations presents four Norwegian composers and their works, performed and commissioned by The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, under their Chief Conductor, the Grammy-nominated and Emmy Award-winner Miguel Harth-Bedoya.

Variations over Variations is a great snapshot of contemporary Norwegian orchestral music. The four works enters into a dialogue with existing music and a music history that binds them together, in very different ways. Some places musical quotes open up a door to the Norwegian, other places it re-contextualises the idea of a national music. Tine is featured on the title track in Janson’s trumpet concerto ‘Variations over variations on a Norwegian folk tune’, a variation over Edvard Grieg’s ‘Ballad in G minor’. Ratkje’s ‘Paragraf 112’ expands the orchestra’s ordinary timbre and establishes a vulnerable openness which later turns darker and more dangerous. Mikalsen’s folk-inspired ‘Songr’ moves between grand orchestral roars and fragile chords, while Vaage’s ‘Mylder’ could be described as a symphonic internet where the surface seems strangely familiar.

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Ellen Ugelvik plays Magne Hegdal and Anton Reicha

Ellen Ugelvik plays Magne Hegdal and Anton Reicha


Hegdal:

Konsertstykke i tre deler

Songs and Flowers

Reicha, A:

Practische Beispiele No. 23

Practische Beispiele No. 3


Ellen Ugelvik (piano)

Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Bjarte Engeset

The late 18th-early 19th century composer Anton Reicha is one of the most important inspirations for the contemporary Norwegian composer Magne Hegdal, and here award-winning pianist Ellen Ugelvik brings them together. Two major Hegdal pieces – the recent piano concerto, Concert Piece in three sections, and Songs and Flowers – alternate with two short piano compositions from Reicha’s ‘Praktische Beispiele’.

Concert Piece in three sections was commissioned by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Ellen Ugelvik. It was written for the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution and performed for the first time the following year, 2015. It’s the first large scale work by Hegdal from recent times in which he has not used the aleatoric principle as a basis.

There is a deep understanding between Hegdal and Ugelvik. Here is a long-standing and thoroughly prepared study, a knowledge of the intention and the attitude that lies behind it – and not least a practical knowledge: before the premiere of the Concert Piece she and Hegdal had played it together, getting to know the work as a whole.

One of Norway’s most notable composers, Magne Hegdal was born in 1944. His first instrument, the piano, has a prominent position in his work list. Among these is Herbarium (1974-2002), an attempt to make music approach nature, through a combination of consistent structure and chance. In its final form, it has been recorded by pianist Herbert Henck (ACD5041), one of several Hegdal albums in Aurora’s catalogue. In 2014, he won the Arne Nordheim Composer Award.

Ellen Ugelvik’s commitment to contemporary music is widely recognized and her recordings have won three Norwegian Grammys. She collaborates with composers such as Helmut Lachenmann, George Crumb, Michael Finnissy, Dai Fujikura and Øyvind Torvund. She was nominated for Kritikerprisen for the performance of Hegdal’s Herbarium at the Risør Chamber Music Festival in 2012.

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Thommessen: The Hermaphrodite

Thommessen: The Hermaphrodite


Eir Inderhaug (recitation, soprano), Isa Katharina Gericke (soprano), Anna Elisabeth Einarsson (mezzo-soprano), Nils Harald Sodal (recitation, tenor), Espen Fegran (baritone) & Ketil Hugaas (bass)

Oslo Sinfonietta, Christian Eggen

The chamber opera ‘The Hermaphrodite’ was composed by Olav Anton Thommessen between 1970-1980 and consists of seven independent chamber works which, when performed in succession, comprise a compelling scenic whole.

In a sense the opera is an allegory on the awakening sexuality in man and the meeting between its masculine and feminine aspects. Using texts by D H Lawrence and Isidore Ducasse and from The Secret Gospel of Mark, it was conceived as as a ballet-opera and requires six soloists, two actors, dancers and a chamber ensemble. Now, 40 years after its part premiere in 1976, the complete opera is finally released on CD.

The Oslo Sinfonietta performs ‘The Hermaphrodite’ under its chief conductor and artistic leader Christian Eggen. Consisting of leading freelance musicians and members from some of Norway´s most prominent orchestras, the ensemble has the quality and flexibility demanded by a modern repertoire. They are joined by a dream team of soloists: Eir Inderhaug (recitation, soprano), Isa Katharina Gericke (soprano), Anna Elisabeth Einarsson (mezzo-soprano), Nils Harald Sodal (recitation, tenor), Espen Fegran (baritone) and Ketil Hugaas (bass).

As a central figure in Norwegian musical life, composer Olav Anton Thommessen (born 1946) has throughout his career made an impressive contribution to the acknowledgment of newer forms of music, either through his occasional radical musical language, his capabilities to discover new views on the musical process through his tuition, or as a debater on the position of music and art in society as a whole.

“As a period piece it’s great fun, and this performance by the Oslo Sinfonietta under Christian Eggen is impressive: committed and energetic, with ultra-focused playing, vivid drama in the pacing and spacing (the recording sounds 3D), elastic singing and some virtuosic heavy breathing from soprano Eir Inderhaug and the rest of the cast.” The Guardian, 2nd February 2017 ****

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Henrik Ødegaard: Te Lucis Ante Terminum

Henrik Ødegaard: Te Lucis Ante Terminum


Ødegaard:

Arise, my love!

Te lucis ante terminum

Cantus VIIb - Eructavit cor meum

Cantus VIIIb - Magnificat with antiphone Montes Gelboe

Cantus VIb - Super flumina Babylonis


Madis Metsamart & Vambola Krigul (percussion)

Vox Clamantis & Estonian National Male Choir, Jaan-Eik Tulve & Mikk Üleoja

Voices from the Gregorian tradition, from the depths of western vocal tradition, meet a new, modern musical language in an organic but nonetheless refreshing and unpredictable way, filtered through composer Henrik Ødegaard’s finely tuned means of expression.

Since studying in “the Gregorian class” at the Paris conservatory, Ødegaard has engrossed himself in Gregorian chant and written music taking inspiration from the Gregorian tradition and from Catholic liturgy. On this beautiful recording are works in that tradition, performed by world-renowned Gregorian choirs, The Estonian National Male Choir and Vox Clamantis.

‘Te lucis ante terminum’ sets improvisatory elements against the traditional material in a large-scale tuneful composition, while the three ‘Cantus’ works put Gregorian melodies in the original notation together with modern harmonisation. The opening ‘Arise, my love!’, however, takes a completely different approach and creates with its open intervals and additions of whistling, laughter and shouts a positive, joyful style, where the sensuality is clear both in music and words.

Henrik Ødegaard was educated as a music teacher, organist and composer and his works cover all genres, with an emphasis on vocal music. He lives in Norway’s Telemark region amidst a vital folk-music scene – a musical heritage that has proved to play an increasing part in his compositions.

Founded in 1944, The Estonian National Male Choir (RAM) is now a world-renowned professional choir noted for its renditions of large-scale choral works. The choir has performed more than 6000 concerts worldwide and won several awards, most notably a Grammy. Vox Clamantis was formed in 1996 and comprises a diversity of musicians – singers, composers, instrumentalists and conductors – particularly noted for performing Gregorian music, early polyphony and contemporary music, with pieces written specially for them by Arvo Pärt (recorded on ECM) and Erkki-Sven Tüur.

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Aurora - ACD5087

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neoN

neoN


 

Monocots

Oren Ambarchi and James Rushford

Lucier:

Two Circles

Skar:

Kunsten å Tvile 2

Smørdal:

My Favorite Thing 2

Tjøgersen:

Trending Light 2


Ensemble neoN

Ensemble neoN takes new music to the next level. Bringing with them youthful experimentalism in their sonic adventures, the ensemble has throughout its short life established itself as a progressive, original and uncompromising group on today’s contemporary music scene.

Their debut album “neoN”, consisting of five pieces, establishes the group as a considerable force on the experimental music scene. It features music by Alvin Lucier, Oren Ambarchi and James Rushford, in addition to works by the ensemble’s own composers Kristine Tjogersen, Jan Martin Smordal and Julian Skar. The album contains liner notes written by the experimental singer/songwriter Jenny Hval.

Consisting of twelve Oslo-based musicians with a passionate interest in contemporary music, Ensemble neoN strives to initiate, produce and perform music that reflects current trends in music and other art forms. Although rooted in the experimentalism of contemporary Western art music, Ensemble neoN easily defies any conventional genre boundaries, drawing on musical impulses and inspirations ranging from improvisation, soundscapes and musical theatre, to pop and electronica. With members with a background from several leading Norwegian orchestras and ensembles, the group and its members have already made an impact and gained recognition both as individual musicians and as a group at home in Norway – most notably winning a Norwegian Grammy Award for their collaborative album with Susanna Wallumrod, “The Forester” – and internationally, with The New York Times describing the group as “an impressive group” for their performance at the 2016 Mata Festival.

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Aurora - ACD5084

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Poing - Sur Poing

Poing - Sur Poing


Barrett, R:

Cell

Lovens:

Blow Out!

Oehring:

Sur Poing: Prolog

Sur Poing: Epilog


Poing

The Norwegian trio Poing is one of Scandinavia's leading ensembles in the contemporary field. Known for their wild virtuosity, humour, seriousness and improv, Poing is impossible to pin down.

Their constant touring has brought POING all over the world, including such festivals as Other Minds, Huddersfield and Klangspuren. 'Sur Poing' is the result of several years of collaboration with composers Richard Barrett and Helmut Oehring. A blind date with the legendary drummer Paul Lovens in a highly energetic free improvisation, recorded live in Oslo, also finds its natural place on this release.

German composer Helmut Oehring (1961) has created a 'double portrait' in the title track 'sur Poing' (to Poing) by combining the story of the trio with his own story. The work is a combination of sound clips of Poing telling about their instruments, field recordings from their career and a musical collection of Oehrings existing compositions. "The result is a shrewdly constructed double portrait - quite unlike anything else" accordionist Frode Haltli reports.

'Cell' is the result of six years of collaboration between Poing and the Welsh composer Richard Barrett (1959), one of the great heroes of the trio since the 90s. The piece is a combination of composition and improvisation, finding its energy in both traditions - without the listener having to know or even care as for which is what. The sounding result is explosive: precise trio playing meets up with anarchistic blow-outs - followed by deafening silence.

Poing is Rolf-Erik Nystrøm on saxophones, Frode Haltli on accordion and Håkon Thelin on double bass. They started playing together in 1999, and have since been one of the leading ensembles for contemporary music in Scandinavia. They have played in clubs and concert halls in most European countries, the US as well as in China and Japan, with more than 100 first performances. "This unusual Norwegian trio is doing interesting work off the beaten track. The unusual begins with the instrumentation ...and display considerable technical depth and breadth, as well as strong ensemble identity" (Julian Cowley, The Wire).

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Aurora - ACD5086

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Lene Grenager: Smilodon

Lene Grenager: Smilodon


Grenager:

The Operation

Smilodon

Cello Concerto


Håkon Stene (percussion), Rolf Borch (bass clarinet), Tanja Orning (cello)

Arctic Philharmonic Sinfonietta, Peter Szilvay

‘Smilodon’ is a portrait of the Norwegian composer Lene Grenager (born 1969) featuring three new concertos, written in close collaboration with and for a trio of great soloists – bass clarinettist Rolf Borch, cellist Tanja Orning, and percussionist Håkon Stene.

The opening of ‘Smilodon’ (the name of a cat with enormous fangs and weighing 200 kilos from America during the last Ice Age) is closer to porous thought than heavy-handed action. From an undefined place deep down in the bass clarinet’s darkness rises a smoke signal that is reinforced in percussion and high-pitched winds. It feels like the music could explode at any time.

Both the dark and the sturdy, the lithe and the explosive may perhaps be traced back to Lene Grenager’s own instrument and her career as a performer. As a cellist she is specialized in improvised music and works mainly in the quartets SPUNK and Lemur, and in a duo with singer Sofia Jernberg. The cello is never far away when she is composing.

In ‘The Operation’ (2012), Grenager and percussionist Håkon Stene place the cello on the operating table. Together they approach the instrument systematically as a passive, percussive source of sound. The cello is stripped of tradition and convention and is treated as a primitive object, a wooden box with strings, by a musician with long experience, without any expressive or motile memory connected to the instrument. The piece is part of a research project in which Stene critically investigates the potentially unlimited number of instruments available to him as a percussionist as well as relationships they create between body and instrument.

The Cello Concerto from 2006 was written at the same period as the music on the CD ‘Slåtter, slag og slark’, where Grenager investigates her own instrument both as soloist and composer. Much of this folk music was played for dancing and its organic character often comes from dance steps and rhythms that are metrically uneven. With Grenager both the distorted rhythms and the folkdance’s energy survive to be translated into a sinfonietta, which also has a soprano on equal footing with the other instruments. The cello part begins in the inflections of folk music, but with a sound that immediately bursts out from notes and melodies, and over into a wide vocabulary of sounds of friction between instrument, bow and body.

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Neon Forest Space: Asamisimasa Plays the Music of Oyvind Torvund

Neon Forest Space: Asamisimasa Plays the Music of Oyvind Torvund


Torvund:

Willibald Motor Landscape

Neon Space Forest

Wolf Studies

Plastic Waves for piano and ensemble


Asamisimasa

The musical universe of contemporary Norwegian composer Øyvind Torvund is rough and unpolished. Ensemble asamisimasa has taken his music into Oslo's legendary Rainbow studio - and the result is unlike anything you have ever heard.

Often there is a paradoxical mixture of elements in Torvund's music: melodic themes and acoustic chamber music in a folk, punk or baroque style is put together with field recordings, lo-fi electronics and home-made string instruments. Many of his pieces circle around the idea of an archaic music and the representation of naïve idyllic situations.

In 'Neon Forest Space' the musicians are playing together with a field recording where they imitate primeval melodies from the forest. In 'Wolf Studies' there is no border between man and beast and it is difficult for the listener to hear the difference between wolf sounds and instruments imitating wolves.

'Plastic Waves' points to something artificial, towards a world of cheap and imperfect imitations. The piece is a sort of piano concerto where the ensemble, the soloist and a noise generator recreates the sound of waves hitting against the shore. For 'Willibald Motor Landscape', Torvund collected recordings of car traffic in Oslo, racing cars, flipper arcade games, baroque ornaments and pulsating chords - transcribing it all into music.

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Snarks in the Kitchen

Snarks in the Kitchen


Matre:

...but I must have said this before

Ness, J Ø:

Moray

The Dangerous Kitten

Nordheim:

The Hunting of the Snark

The Return of the Snark


Sverre Riise (trombone), Emery Cardas (cello), Asbjørn Blokkum Flø (electronics), Sigstein Folgerø (piano)

Oslo Sinfonietta, Christian Eggen

What in the world is going on in Sverre Riise’s kitchen? He is one of the few orchestral trombonists (he is principal in the Norwegian Radio Orchestra) who also works extensively as a soloist and in chamber music, and now he’s cooked up an appetising meal of trombone music by Norwegian composers Arne Nordheim, Jon Øivind Ness and Ørjan Matre - something rare on record.

The trombone is not a common solo instrument, despite having nearly unlimited resources. A highly-trained trombonist like Sverre Riise is able to play surprisingly fast, ranging over an impressive four and a half octaves. The instrument also possesses wide possibilities in dynamics, so for composers just about anything is possible! Still, works written especially for the trombone are few and far between, so Riise asked some of the foremost Norwegian composers to change that.

Ørjan Matre has a distinct sense of working with sound, which is very clear in ‘...since I say it now’ - the trombonist sings while playing. Known for the humorous undertones in his music, Jon Øivind Ness’s ‘The Dangerous Kitten’, from 1998, has a title inspired by Frank Zappa’s The Dangerous Kitchen. Though Ness is now moving away from his humorous image, ‘Moray’, named after the carnivorous eel, seems to be an exception: its subtitle should be read with a lisp - “The piece formerly known as Phekph Piphtolph”.

Arne Nordheim is perhaps the best-known Norwegian composer of our time. His own back-ground as a trombonist gave him an advantage in understanding the instrument’s techniques. In his legendary pieces ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ and ‘The Return of the Snark’ based on Lewis Carroll’s nonsense verse, Nordheim uses the trombone to represent the sound a “snark” might have made if it was real. In addition, ‘Vevnad’ for cello and electronics is recorded for the first time on this release.

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Gisle Kverndokk: Fuge der Zeit

Gisle Kverndokk: Fuge der Zeit


Kverndokk:

The Seven Last Words of Christ for six singers, two string quartets, double bass and piano

Mass for Six Voices

Fuge der Zeit for six singers, string orchestra and organ


Terje Baugerød (organ), Gonzalo Moreno (piano)

Nordic Voices, Strings from the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Rolf Gupta

This recording is entirely devoted to sacred music written by Gisle Kverdokk for Nordic Voices, a professional vocal ensemble which has pushed the boundaries of what was considered possible in the vocal field.

Gisle Kverdokk (born 1967) is best known for writing musicals and operas, which have been staged in his native Norway, Finland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the USA. Among them are ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’, ‘Sophie’s World’, ‘Dangerous Liaisons’, ‘Martin L’, and ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, commissioned for the opening of the new opera house in Oslo in 2010. His works also include chamber music and music for films, theatre, radio and ballet. For Nordic Voices he’s been inspired to use the whole breadth of musical expression, in three substantial pieces: Mass for six solo voices, and two works with orchestra (in which Rolf Gupta conducts the Norwegian Radio Orchestra).

The Mass began life as a Missa Brevis commissioned by Nordic Voices for the Farten Valen Days in 2002 - hence Kverdokk’s use of melodic material from Valen’s Piano Sonata No 2 as a basis of the music in its Kyrie and Gloria. The remaining liturgical sections were added for the complete Mass which was finished in 2007. ‘Fuge der Zeit’ for six singers, string orchestra and organ with a text from The Book of Ecclesiastes and poems by Paul Celan was originally a commission for the 2011 Gloger Festival in Kongsberg. And ‘The seven last words of Christ’ for six singers, two string quartets, double bass and piano, is a further development to his chamber opera ‘Påske’ (Easter), based on Strindberg’s drama, which premiered in the spring of 2014.

Nordic Voices, formed in 1996, consists of the singers Tone Braaten, Ingrid Hanken, Ebba Rydh, Per Kristian Amundrød, Frank Havrøy and Trond Reinholdsten, all of them graduates of the Norwegian Academy of Music or the Opera Academy in Oslo. Their creative concert programming - often involving a subtle element of humour - has led them to become a much sought-after group on the international scene. They have released five recordings, including the acclaimed ‘Djanki Don’ for Aurora (ACD5055), and participated on many more.

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Aurora - ACD5077

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