The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Skouen: Call-Notes: Une soirée d’été…; Hils Domitila!; Nattstykke; Fair Play; … à travers les paroles; catchme!; O Vilhelm, Vilhelm; Vent!; Scenes from Volven
Various worlds inform the music of a leading light in Norway’s cultural scene
Monday, 01 August 2011
Geir Inge Lotsberg (violin) Johannes Martens (cello) Oslo String Quartet, Ruth Wilhelmine Meyer (voice) Tone Kruse (alto) Ellen Ugelvik (piano) SISU Percussion Quartet, Norwegian Radio Orchestra/Christian Eggen
Aurora ACD 5062 (www.komponist.musikkonline.no)
This is a mixed bag of recent works by the Norwegian composer and writer Synne Skouen (b.1950), which, along with music for orchestra, percussion quartet and solo piano, features several significant string pieces that blend a Romantic sensibility with contemporary sounds and techniques. Geir Inge Lotsberg gives poised, thoughtful performances of Une soirée d’été… (1991) and its companion piece … à travers les paroles (2007), with warm, generous playing.
At times it may be a little too considered, however – it could sometimes do with a little more forward impetus to prevent the works sounding like a succession of unconnected gestures. catchme! (2007), for cello and piano, paints a picture of the duo in crisis, and there’s spiky, volatile playing from cellist Johannes Martens, ably joined by Ellen Ugelvik in the harsh, unpredictable piano part. The string quartet ‘plus one’ O Vilhelm, Vilhelm (2007) is a more major work: its slowly unfolding lines, delivered with searing intensity by the Oslo Quartet, head inexorably towards a soulful performance of a Romany song by singer Ruth Wilhelmine Meyer. Recorded sound is remarkably clear and faithful throughout.
From the August 2011 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.