ALFRED JANSON (b.1937): Variations over Variations over a Norwegian Folk Tune for Trumpet and Orchestra (Tine Thing Helseth [trumpet]), JAN ERIK MIKALSEN (b.1979): Songr, KNUT VAAGE (b.1961): Mylder, MAJA S. K. RATKJE (b.1973): Paragraf 112.
Catalogue Number: 04S066
Description: The work that gives this disc its title is a highly virtuosic trumpet concerto in the form of free variations on recognizable gestures from Grieg's Ballade, itself variations on a Norwegian folk tune. Janson takes the material into territory that Grieg would never have dreamt of, though the work remains tonal and thoroughly approachable, both aspects focused by the lively, busy trumpet part. Emotionally, too, the piece follows a different dramatic arc from Grieg's serious, tragic cumulatively intense work; although it has its dramatic moments, this piece is less concentrated, more concerned with the pleasures of the moment (which are many as the piece unfolds) than overall direction. Mikalsen's three folk-inspired movements of Songr form a massive, monumental statement. 'Folk' in this case seems to imply a primeval, archaic archetype for folk melody, as the sheer massiveness of the music is on a vast, natural scale; the landscape that the tiny settlements of primitive peoples tried to celebrate in their bardic poetry. The movements begin with inchoate nature-sounds as of rustling trees and bird calls; gradually tonal centers emerge and grow to mountainous dimensions. The second and third erupt in volcanic storms of irresistible momentum, but brief oases of calm allow the melodic material to be briefly glimpsed on a human scale before focus shifts again to the towering landscape. Vaage's "Myriad" is a high-energy orchestral extravaganza of instantly recognizable quotations, fragments of familiar classics tumbling over one another in a display of compositional virtuosity. Ratkje's short piece begins with extended orchestral textures, out of which a dark, neo-romantic theme gradually looms; the title refers to environmental concerns in the Norwegian constitution, so the work may be assumed to carry some sort of warning message. Norwegian Radio Orchestra; Miguel Harth-Bedoya.