Hans Olav Gorset and Friends: Popular Music in Eighteenth Century Norway – Nodebog – 2L multichannel Blu-ray Pure Audio + SACD 2L 88, 52:58 [Distr. by Naxos] ***1/2:
These are arrangements of musical pleasures and divertissements from the eighteenth century, not all from Norway, as some of the tunes were known throughout Europe. We cannot however, be sure that what we hear here is anything close to what was heard then in terms of style, though one can assume a reasonable facsimile. Most of the pieces are played by recorder and baroque flute specialist Hans Olav Gorset, with the vocal numbers sung radiantly by Catherin Bothner. The other six players of Nodebog include violin, baroque guitar and theorbo, harpsichord, viola da gamba, Norwegian folk drum and other percussion.
The instrumentation does not necessarily reflect the usage of the day—Nodebog is using private and larger social gathering considerations in orchestrating these, and not all of the instruments would have been used in any particular country. The idea throughout is to generate a modern consideration of these old dated pieces in order to convey a living context. There are a total of six source books from which all of these songs are taken, and that of Truels Johannessǿn Hvidt (from 1722) contains the vast majority of the numbers. All of those involved play with a good deal of spunk and energy.
2L’s sound is exemplary as usual, though as usual I also detect the slightest degree of greater warmth in the SACD version, though the 5.1 DTS HD MA 24/192 kHz is nothing to sneeze at. Why this is, I am not sure, and it is certainly possible that others might hear it differently than I do. Others have noticed a higher propensity for thinner sound in many DTS recordings, though I would argue it is closing the gap with Super Audio. The concept premise is also very good in this production, but with the baroque flute taking the lead in most of these works, a sameness of tone soon becomes a burden to these ears, whether brought on by orchestration or the nature of the “popular” music of the time itself. But if these interest you, the production values could hardly be bettered.