Kjetil Bjerkestrand, Philip Glass: Patientia

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Meeting with Kjetil Bjerkestrand in 2019, violinist Sara Övinge found something she was looking for. He is the epitome of the symbiotic musician, drawing on experience and inspirations from a wide range of musical styles, from rock, pop through to contemporary. He describes the composition process as one part search for fixation points in a series of possible events, and one part exploration of friction caused by the union of the elastic and the mechanical. Harmonically, he often starts with Messiaen’s third mode. If you’re reading this with an instrument handy, from C this would be C-D-Eb-E-F#-G-Ab-Bb-B. There are three identical movements from each major third, C, E and Ab, which are also the only notes that appear in all three possible modulations. From this he derives three-chord sequences, with a penchant for triads, which he then stacks according to his desire and need to fill the soundscape. Count to three, and try it yourself!

However technical this may sound, Kjetil manages to distill a music of his own which seems both familiar and foreign; instantaneous, yet profound. Where many would succumb to the saccharine and pathos-filled, he creates an undercurrent of something that, for want a better definition, I would call a sensitive matter-of-factness.

A theme that Sara aimed to pursue in the project was the juxtaposition of the electronic and the organic. Philip Glass’s 2nd Piano Concerto is arranged for synthesiser and strings, a kind of updated version of Vivaldi’s string orchestra with continuo. But where previous recordings have gone for an electronic sound resembling the baroque harpsichord, Sara wanted to create a more electro-acoustic soundscape, thus achieving a common thread between the two works. If you want to do this with the intellectual property of a living artist, you’ll of course have to ask for permission. In communication with Glass’s representatives it was made clear that the voice called “keyboard” in the score was allowed to be a sound “chosen by own judgment and taste”.

This kind of flexibility can not be taken for granted, but the music of Phillip Glass brings with it a kind of instrumental neutrality that accommodates changing instrumentation. And on the whole, Glass allows the performer a great deal of freedom in his American Four Seasons, such as with the order of the movements – if the soloist feels this particular movement should be Winter, then so be it. There is something disarming and accessible about the fact that one of the grand old men of music today entrusts his work with the musicians to such an extent, and it’s a golden opportunity for Sara to take the work in the direction she desires. The synthesiser sound you hear on this record was developed in collaboration with Anja Lauvdal, the Norwegian jazz pianist/composer, who has collaborated with both Sara and Kjetil on several projects. It is of course up to the experience of each individual, but this particular listener feels that the timbre accentuates the sensation of otherness one gets when hearing Glass’s music; the flicker of a forgotten world just out of reach, something that exists beyond the familiar and can only be glimpsed.

Sara Övinge (violin)
Sara Övinge started playing the violin at four years old and had her first soloist performance with her local Symphony orchestra in Norrköping at the age of nine. At 16 she started her Bachelor at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, followed by Solo Diplomas at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo and the Royal College of Music in London.
During her education Sara was a multiple prizewinner; she was the youngest ever diploma graduate from Oslo, she won “The Listeners’ Prize” in the Swedish Soloist Prize and the Ljunggrenska competition for Young Musicians in 2010. Sara has performed as a soloist with many of Scandinavia’s leading orchestras, including Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Trondheim Symphony Orchestra.
Sara was appointed Associate Concertmaster at the Norwegian Opera & Ballet in 2014, a position she left to fulfill her passion for an eclectic range of performance and music making. She is a member of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and the contemporary music ensemble Cikada and has been guest Concertmaster for Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.
Sara has personally collaborated with many of Norway’s leading artists, including Bugge Wesseltoft, Nils Bech, Kjetil Bjerkestrand, Trygve Seim, Anja Lauvdal and Eivind Aarset. Besides working with non-classical musicians, Sara has also explored the possibilities in movement combined with violin playing and created, in 2018, a solo performance with choreographer Gunhild Bjørnsgaard that had its premiere at the Contemporary art center in Armenia. She also had the main role in the music theatre performance of Verklärte Nacht with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, winning the YAMawards in 2019.
Sara engages passionately in education, teaching at Barrat DueInstitute of Music, the Norwegian Academy of Music, and Voksenåsen Summer Academy.
Sara currently plays on a Giovanni Battista Guadagnini from 1754, generously loaned to her from Dextra Musica.

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Since its formation in 1977 the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra has established itself as one of the foremost chamber orchestras on the international classical music scene today. Renowned for its innovative programming and creativity, the NCO is a project orchestra comprised of Norway’s finest instrumentalists. Through integrating experienced musicians with talented young instrumentalists, the orchestra continuously develops its unique style and innovative culture, thereby greatly contributing to the position Norwegian musicians and ensembles hold internationally.
The artistic directors and guest leaders throughout its history have been Iona Brown, Leif Ove Andsnes, Isabelle van Keulen, Martin Fröst, François Leleux and Steven Isserlis together with our current artistic director Terje Tønnesen who has held this role since the orchestra’s formation.
The orchestra’s international tours to Europe, Asia and North America have received outstanding reviews at many of the world’s prestigious concert halls and festivals. With nearly 40 recordings to date, the NCO has recorded comprehensive chamber orchestra repertoire with distinguished soloists, including Leif Ove Andsnes, Terje Tønnesen, Iona Brown, Truls Mørk, Lars Anders Tomter and Tine Thing Helseth. Highlights include Spellemannpris-winning recordings of Grieg/Nielsen works and Haydn piano concertos with Leif Ove Andsnes.
The orchestra draws on an enviable roster of Norwegian and international soloists and has always been dedicated to presenting contemporary music as part of its concert repertoire.
The NCO currently presents its own concert series at the University aula in Oslo and performs in major concert venues in Norway.

Edward Gardner (conductor)
The English conductor Edward Gardner was born in Gloucester in 1974 and sang as a chorister at Gloucester Cathedral. As a youth, he played piano, clarinet and organ. He had begun choral conducting at Eton, and continued conducting at Cambridge.
From 1997 until 2002, Edward Gardner was Musical Director of Wokingham Choral Society, a post previously held by Graeme Jenkins, Paul Daniel, and Stephen Layton. In 1999, whilst still a student at the Royal Academy of Music, Gardner became a repetiteur at the Salzburg Festival at the invitation of Michael Gielen. Gardner subsequently served as an assistant conductor to Mark Elder at the Hallé Orchestra for 3 years, and he was music director of Glyndebourne on Tour from 2003 till 2007.
In September 2010, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Gardner as its next Principal Guest Conductor, effective September 2011, with an initial contract of 3 years, for 3-4 weeks of concerts per season. He concluded his term as Principal Guest Conductor of the CBSO in July 2016. Outside of the UK, in February 2013, Edward Gardner was simultaneously named the next Principal Guest Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, effective August 2013, and the orchestra's next Principal Conductor effective with the 2015-2016 season. In January 2017, the orchestra has announced that Gardner's contract will be extended untill 2021.

Sara Övinge (violin)

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Edward Gardner (conductor)

Marthe Husum (viola)
Kjetil Bjerkestrand (synthesizer)
Anja Lauvdal (synthesizer)
Cam Kjøll (violin)
Ole Eirik Ree (cello)

Bjerkestrand: Violin Concerto No. 1 'Patientia'
P.Glass: Violin Concerto No. 2 'The American Four Seasons'

wydano: 23 June 2023
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Lawo Classics
Kjetil Bjerkestrand (b. 1955), Philip Glass (b.1937)
Sara Övinge, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Edward Gardner
Kjetil Bjerkestrand, Philip Glass: Patientia
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