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Nils Økland and Sigbjørn Apeland — Lysøen — Hommage A Ole Bull

Nils Økland and Sigbjørn Apeland — Lysoen — Hommage A Ole Bull (April 2011) Nils Økland and Sigbjørn Apeland — Lysøen — Hommage A Ole Bull

♠   V tomto nápadně atraktivním albu Norové Nils Økland (housle) a Sigbjørn Apeland (Piano, Harmonium) vzdávají hold jedné z největších postav hudební historie své země — skladateli / performeru jménem Ole Bull (1810–1880). Toto je první album nahrávané v Bull’s former home Villa Lysø na ostrově Lysøen mimo Norsko — na jeho západním pobřeží. Oba, Nils a Sigbjørn ,byly dříve řediteli Akademie Ole Bull ve Vossu a mají encyklopedické pochopení nejen Bullovy hudby, ale také zdrojů, které ho inspirovaly.
Location: Villa Lysøen, Hordaland, Norway
Album release: April 2011
Recording date: September 2009
Record Label: ECM {ECM 2179}
Duration:     62:06
01. Stusle Sundagskveldenl      5:53
02. La Mélancolie      4:23
03. Belg og slag      4:12
04. Grålysning      3:08
05. Sylkje–Per      3:51
06. Solstraum      5:28
07. Theme from Nocturne      1:50
08. Eg ser deg utfor gluggjen      4:58
09. Ole Bull–vals      2:28
10. I Rosenlund under Sagas Hall / La Folia      5:27
11. Tjødn      3:28
12. Jeg har så lun en hytte      4:32
13. Solveigs sang      3:35
14. Sylkje–Per      3:58
15. La Mélancolie      2:17
16. Sæterjentens Søndag      2:29
♠   Nils Økland — violin, Hardanger fiddle
♠   Sigbjørn Apeland — piano, harmonium
♠   Recorded September 2009 and January 2010 at Villa Lysøen, Hordaland, Norway
♠   Recording engineer and editing: Audun Strype
♠   Album produced by Manfred Eicher
♠   Sigbjørn Apeland Arranger, Composer, Harmonium, Liner Notes, Piano
♠   Jim Bengston Cover Photo
♠   Manfred Eicher Producer
♠   Edvard Grieg Composer
♠   Berit Høgheim Photography
♠   Sascha Kleis Design
♠   Museet Lysøen Photography
♠   Mari Lyssand Liner Notes
♠   Nils Økland Arranger, Composer, Hardanger Fiddle, Liner Notes, Violin
♠   Ole Bull Composer
♠   Tobias A. Salomonsen Photography
♠   Audun Strype Editing, Engineer
♠   Traditional Composer
© Tobias A . Salomonsen
Description 1:
♠   When asked by the King of Denmark to name his teachers, violinist Ole Bull famously replied, “The mountains of Norway, Your Majesty”, and his work was certainly informed — as is the present disc — by the spirit of place. Once a world–renowned musician, Bull’s current reputation rests on a small body of written pieces that tell just part of the story. He remains however an iconic figure in Norwegian music. Ole Bull (1810–1880) was a player–composer who associated with the great names of 19th century music — Clara Schumann and Franz Liszt were amongst the pianists who accompanied him — but also had a lifelong involvement with folk music. ♠   From childhood onward he was friendly with local Hardanger fiddle players and he would often play folk tunes in his recitals, or borrow themes from folk music for his concert pieces.
♠   Edvard Grieg considered Bull amongst his most important inspirations: “Ole Bull became my saviour. He showed me the beauty and originality in Norwegian folk music.” For Liszt, Bull was “quite simply extraordinary. He is a sort of savage’s genius, possessing an abundance of original, enchanting ideas.” A player of great technical prowess, Bull was regarded by many critics of his day as a logical successor to Paganini. And, like the Italian master, he was an improviser of genius. He was also given to romantic–extravagant performance gestures — such as playing his violin atop of the Cheops pyramid at Giza. Mark Twain and William Thackeray were amongst his many admirers, and Ibsen is said to have based the figure of Peer Gynt on Ole Bull.
♠   In 1872, Bull bought the island of Lysøen off the west coast of Norway and had a villa built there on ‘fairytale’ designs by architect Conrad Fredrik von der Lippe. In 1974, Bull’s granddaughter donated the house to the Norwegian Society for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments, and it has since been maintained as part of the Lysøen Museum. Many concerts have been given in its music room, but Nils Økland and Sigbjørn Apeland are the first musicians to have recorded there. Sigbjørn Apeland plays a grand piano which once belonged to Ole Bull’s daughter Olea, as well as Bull’s harmonium. Amongst the instruments used by Nils Økland is Bull’s Guarneri del Gesù violin from 1734.
Description 2:
♠   Nils Økland and Sigbjørn Apeland are the first musicians to record an album at Lysøen, the Norwegian island home of iconic violinist–composer Ole Bull (1810–1880). ♠   For years they have explored Ole Bull’s musical landscapes with open minds, and found inspiration to develop their own ideas. In this recording they have chosen to emphasise the contemplative elements in Ole Bull’s music. The album presents partly the performers’ own arrangements and improvisations based on tunes that Bull performed, and partly new compositions inspired by Ole Bull.
♠   Fiddler Nils Økland and pianist Sigbjørn Apeland offer a studied take on the legacy of Ole Bull (1810–1880), a violinist of classical renown who brightened the folk music of his native Norway like no other musician after him. The present album is named for the little island off Norway’s western coast where Bull built a summer home for his wife and daughter, a place he’d longed for since childhood and where he would die only a few weeks upon realizing his dream to live there. Økland and Apeland were privileged to have access to instruments once owned and played by the Bull family for this recording, the first ever to be made at the Lysøen villa. Taking inspiration from the man Edvard Grieg once called a musical savior, the duo paints an idiosyncratic portrait using traditional and original pigments between daubs of Bull’s own, and all with a flair for adlibbing that is true to form. On that note, the musicians cite ECM greats Arild Andersen, Jan Garbarek, and, more recently, Frode Haltli as inspirations for likewise tapping folk veins in their improvisatory mining.
♠   Traditionals take up most of the canvas, with the appropriately titled “Stusle Sundagskvelden” (Dismal Sunday Evening) opening in somber gesso. Its relay between fiddle and piano crafts a mood so potent, one almost feels it as a mist. Along with “I Rosenlund under Sagas Hall” (In the Rose Grove Under the Hall of Saga), it is the only folk track to employ this instrumental combination. The latter is a dirge–like piece that transitions into the famous “La Folia” without missing a beat. The rest, with two exceptions, pair fiddle with Bull’s own harmonium. This joining of forces — one earthly, one heavenly — is well suited to the material, which ranges from the rustic strains of “Sylkje–Per” (and its solo piano variation) and “Jeg har så lun en hytte” to the ethereal “Eg ser deg utfor gluggjen” (I See You Outside the Window).
♠   The Bull songbook, such as it is, gives only barest insight into the kind of musician he must have been, but in the hands of these players I gather we come closer than by any other available means. Of the four tunes featured, “La Mélancolie” is another shaded, inward tracing. It’s also utterly beautiful and, in this arrangement, is possessed of a cinematic glow. The harmonium adds unusual propulsion to such pieces, and to others, like “Sæterjentens Søndag” (The Herdgirl’s Sunday), a similarity of extremes, from the subterranean to the extraterrestrial.
♠   Økland and Apeland offer two duo originals. “Belg og slag” features tapping of the bow, which draws a line of inquiry to every answer. “Grålysning” (Daybreak) is a prettier circling of airs and sunlight. Økland’s solo “Solstraum” is reminiscent of Paul Giger’s Alpstein, its energies bright against Apeland’s “Tjødn,” a piano solo of eventide. ♠   The program rounds out with a fiddled rendition of Grieg’s famous “Solveigs sang.” ♠   At Økland’s bow, the strings sing this melody as if for the first time, even though, as with the rest, we feel that we have heard it before. Like Bull himself, it is a musical wanderer whose shadow leaves behind a trail to follow.
By JOHN KELMAN, Published: August 14, 2011 | SCORE: *****
♠   The problem with being tagged as traditional is an inherent and immediate perception as being somehow retro or backwards–looking when, in truth, traditions ought to be living, breathing things whose definable frames of reference aren't necessarily confined by them. Norwegian violinist Nils Økland and pianist/harmonium player Sigbjørn Apeland know this better than most; in their 1982 trio, with drummer Øyvind Skarbo, they mine a most contemporary kind of free improvisation that can't help but be informed by the traditional Norwegian music that's been a consuming focus for the entire trio. Lysøen, with Økland and Apeland sharing the marquee, harkens back to an earlier time in its homage to violinist/composer Ole Bull (1810–1880), who bought the island of Lysøen, off the coast of Bergen, in 1872, building an opulent summer home that remains an attraction to this day.
♠   While overt extemporization went out of vogue with classical musicians in the 1850s, Bull remained known as a powerful improviser, drawing on a broad variety of sources both internal and external to his native country. A relative contemporary of Edvard Grieg — who became better–known internationally for his Peer Gynt suite — Bull was a mover and shaker in his own right, soliciting parliamentary funding (but, sadly, refused) for a Norwegian music academy to focus on the country's rich tradition. ♠   In a program that combines Bull originals with uncredited traditional sources, new original music and a couple of spontaneous compositions, Økland and Apeland give Bull the attention he deserves, with a recital that brings Norwegian traditionalism into the 21st century — or, at least, demonstrating that this music remains timeless in a new millennium.
♠   "Belg og slag" harkens to contemporary minimalism, with Økland striking, rather than drawing, his bow over the strings, creating a persistent eighth–note pulse with shifting harmonics — a concept explored solo, to even greater effect , on "Solstraum" — under which Apeland's rich harmonium creates a slowly unfolding landscape. "Grålysning" is more tranquil, Apeland's piano giving its harmonic stasis life like gentle ripples in a pond, while Økland's remarkable bow work — sometimes so delicate as to be more like breathing — hints at an unexpected link with Poland's Zbigniew Seifert, who mined similar modal territory but with more passionate fire on "Stillness," from the late violinist's Man of the Light (MPS, 1977).
♠   Two versions of Bull's appropriately titled "La Mélancolie" nearly bookend the disc, one with piano (and a lengthy a capella intro), the other harmonium, while the traditional, "Sylkje–Per" is similarly treated, the harmonium–driven version possessing a soft majesty, while its piano–based sister, a solo feature for Apeland, evoking a more pastoral feeling.
♠   Throughout, Økland and Apeland's instrumental mastery and adherence to the core of each song creates a compelling entry point into music largely overlooked and ultimately forgotten, but deserving another look more than 130 years after its source left this mortal coil. More than any of its other many successes, Lysøen: Hommage à Ole Bull suggests that international attention on Norway's music scene is, in fact, a latecomer to a party that's been going on for two centuries. Time to catch up.
♠   http://www.allaboutjazz.com/
♠   Nils Økland studied classical violin with Terje Tønnesen and Hardanger fiddle with two of the greatest masters of Norway’s national instrument, Knut Hamre and Sigbjørn Bernhoft Osa. His solo debut for ECM, “Monograph”, was released in 2008 to considerable acclaim. “(The disc) captures the qualities that set Økland apart from those who can merely play,” wrote Julian Cowley in The Wire, “With Økland you get the sense that the instrument is an outlet for a vision.” Økland has long bridged the distance between traditional and experimental music. In addition to his solo disc, he can be heard on two ECM recordings with the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble. He has given concerts in most European countries.
♠   “Lysøen: Hommage à Ole Bull” marks an ECM debut for Sigbjørn Apeland. Sigbjørn holds a position as organist in Sandviken church, Bergen, and collaborates with musicians within a wide range of genres, especially church music, Norwegian folk music, electronics and improvised music. He has also composed/performed music for mixed–media projects, most recently: The Organ Tower (installation/performance for about 25 harmoniums and electronic organs). He has participated in around 30 recordings. As an academic, Apeland has been teaching, supervising and writing within the fields of musicology, cultural studies, church music, theology and folklore studies. ♠   He has also extensive experience as a folk music collector and researcher, primarily focused on material from Western Norway.
♠   Both Sigbjørn Apeland and Nils Økland were previously musical directors of the Ole Bull Academy in Voss, Norway.

Nils Økland and Sigbjørn Apeland — Lysøen — Hommage A Ole Bull