Hommage a Ole Bull – violin, hardanger fiddle, piano & harmonium – ECM

by | Mar 12, 2012 | Classical CD Reviews

Hommage a Ole Bull – Nils Økland – violin & hardanger fiddle/ Sigbjørn Apeland – piano & harmonium – ECM 2179, 62:04 [Distr. by Universal] *****:
Born in Bergen, Ole Bornemann Bull (5 February 1810 – 17 August 1880) was a Norwegian violinist and composer. He was phenomenally gifted from an early age, and was playing violin in a theater orchestra at the age of nine. Friend and encourager of Grieg, Bull was lauded by Schumann, comparing him to Paganini, and considering among the greatest instrumentalists alive. This sort of talent was bound to win recognition, and Bull made a fortune during his lifetime, spending much time in the United States, and founding no less than four colonies still extant today. His was one of the largest funeral processions in Norwegian history.
He did not write a lot, with only seven or eight composition retaining any current play, but was a gifted melodist caught up in the Norwegian nationalist school. What Nils Økland and Sigbjørn Apeland have opted to do on this recording is to present us with the “contemplative” side of Bull’s art by offering arrangements and improvisations on his music. The results are, in a word, exquisite. Running the gamut from bittersweet to mildly optimistic, these melodies are heartfelt, tear-inducing, and absolutely soul-reviving in their caressing mannerisms and relaxed conviviality. I can think of few albums I have heard in the last year that so capture my attention that I am forced to drop any concomitant activities and just sit and listen. Bravo to all concerned—a worthy tribute to the performers and the object of their affections, Ole Bull.  [Here’s our review of some Ole Bull violin concertos in hi-res….Ed.]
Track List:
Stusle Sundagskvelden
La Mélancolie
Belg og slag
Theme from Nocturne
Eg ser deg utfor gluggjen
Ole Bull-vals
I Rosenlund under Sagas Hall / La Folia
Jeg har så lun en hytte
Solveigs sang
La Mélancolie
Sæterjentens Søndag
—Steven Ritter

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