Exquisite performance celebrates Norway's centenary

NORWAY celebrates its national centenary this year, and Bergen-based BIT20 gave the first of seven HCMF concerts featuring Norwegian music.

It was the most beautiful concert I have heard in a long while, and exquisitely performed.

Ning by Rolf Wallin - Scandinavia's most praised modern composer and a Festival resident this year - is tautly composed around the story of a man swimming with a school of salmon.

Scored for oboe/cor anglais and string trio, its shimmering repeated notes and mathematical patterns reflect the shoal working together, with occasional oboe or cello assertions of independence.

In Lasse Thoresen's Lop, Lokk og Linjer (Chases, Cattle Calls and Charts) the full ensemble of single winds and brass, percussion, string trio, double bass and harp were joined by soloist Berit Opheim, a traditional singer with dynamic control, virtuosity and tonal loveliness that defied belief.

For these forces who gave the première in 2002 Thoresen has crafted a five movement work based on Norwegian folk themes that is substantial in length (50 minutes) and depth. It has harmonic clarity with ground bass and minor thirds never far away, and Mozartian humanity combining buffo humour with darker emotions.

To underline the importance of this work and to demonstrate that HCMF is full of surprises the conductor was that giant of continental new music HK Gruber.

Berit Opheim's unaccompanied encore was a ravishing improvisation on traditional Norwegian tonalities that demonstrated the universality of music and echoed the sounds from the Grand Mosque at Damascus heard at HCMF a few years ago.

Nov 21 2005

By The Huddersfield Daily Examiner



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