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Eikanger Bjorsvik

Nordic Lights
Conductor: Philippe Bach
Peer Gynt Hall
Greighallen
Bergen
Sunday 10th December

Eikanger-Bjorsvik’s reputation for progressive concert promotion saw the 2017 Norwegian, European, Siddis and Brass in Concert champion deliver this superb ‘Nordic Lights’ concert led by Swiss conductor Philippe Bach, in the intimate surroundings of the Peer Gynt auditorium at Bergen’s Greighallen.

Banderole

The title came from the only non-Norwegian work of the evening from the pen of John McCabe, whilst the opening item saw the world premiere of ‘Banderole’, written by Hakon Berge, composer of 2008 European Championship test-piece, ‘Brass Blot’.

Originally commissioned by the Norwegian Band Federation as the set-work for the elite section of the Norwegian Championships, ‘Banderole’ was never used - a great pity as it revealed itself to be a work of intensity, subtle colouring and textures with an engaging musical language and structure.

Gulls and sea birds

It was followed by Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen´s ‘Aubade - Dawn Song of the Fabulous Birds’ - originally written for the 2003 European Championships and soon to be revived as the set-test for the forthcoming 2018 Norwegian Championships. 

The comparative link to Messiaen’s great work are obvious, but also a little misplaced, as the composer looks skywards to the gulls and sea birds circling his home town of Kabelvag in northern Norway; the sounds having an ethereal freedom of expression as if floating on an incoming breeze - one caught beautifully in time and space by the MD.

The comparative link to Messiaen’s great work are obvious, but also a little misplaced, as the composer looks skywards to the gulls and sea birds circling his home town of Kabelvag in northern Norway; the sounds having an ethereal freedom of expression as if floating on an incoming breeze - one caught beautifully in time and space by the MD.

Following the interval, the compere Glenn Erik Haugland invited composer Therese Birkelund Ulvo to speak about her new work, ‘Excavation’. One of the rising compositional stars of contemporary Norwegian music, she has been invited through a nationally funded arts programme to write a series of works for leading ensembles and orchestras – one that asks only that she delivers in her own unrestrained musical language.

Pace, power, precision

This enabled her to link with Eikanger on ‘Excavation’ with a freedom she described as feeling like, ‘working with a very fast sports car’ - although on this fascinating composition Ulvo was inspired to look under the polished paintwork to explore the stanchions of technical construction; digging deep to expose the fundamentals on which pace, power and precision are built.

The concert closed with a timely homage to the late John McCabe, with a cultured reading of his ‘Nordic Lights’ - a work of illuminating, yet intensely dark intensity, before Aagaard-Nilsen’s ‘Fra Borge’ provided the encore.
  
Andreas Heier Roe



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