There is a long history of incorporating traditional music into art music. Recurring themes and motifs can be found in the works of several Norwegian composers, from Edvard Grieg’s peasant dances for piano to Lasse Thoresen’s “Yr” for solo violin, not to mention the many accompaniments to folk songs. Folk music has been incorporated into jazz, both as frameworks and as tunes. Composers seek to draw on the melodic, rhythmic, tonal and harmonic characteristics of the traditional music, but their works also reflect contemporary tastes and their own fascination for the original material, which since the mid-19th century has become increasingly known outside the cultures where it had been passed down.
Both composers and performers are influenced by changing musical tastes. Viewed from that perspective, you could say that this project in part reflects the recent trend towards – and perhaps yearning for – simplicity and clarity of form, more conventional tonality and generally less complexity. Whereas many modern pieces draw on past works by other composers, the compositions here have traditional folk music as their starting point.
This release presents various ways of approaching that task; you could call them different aesthetic perspectives or preferences, or different attitudes towards what is authentic. How explicit the link to Norwegian folk music is varies, with the pieces ranging from subtle arrangements of folk melodies to compositions inspired by folk music – highlighted through the use of the kvedar (unaccompanied singer) and nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle). One of the ideas behind three of the commissioned works was to allow composers free rein to explore the relationship between the rich possibilities offered by string instruments in interplay with, and as an accompaniment to, folk song. The harpsichord provides an extra voice in Pettersen’s piece, perhaps augmenting the associations with the past. Timelessness, which in the commissioned pieces is represented by the folk song, is one of the key themes of the project.
TERJUNGENSEMBLE premiered the works by Pettersen, Matre and Vogt at the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival in September 2020. In spring 2020, the ensemble released the album “Kimen”, with music by Magnar Åm. The recording is also available as a CD. TERJUNGENSEMBLE, led by Lars-Erik ter Jung, wants to establish itself on the music scene by bringing to the fore various expressions – or perhaps impressions – of contemporary art music, through concerts and recordings, including in juxtaposition to relevant existing repertoires. The selection criteria used for both newly commissioned works and ones from the existing repertoire include musical relevance and power of expression.
Ingebjørg Lognvik Reinholdt and Åshild Breie Nyhus are two leading folk musicians. Nyhus, who also performs classical music on the violin and viola, is employed by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, as is the viola player Anders Rensvik.
Lars-Erik ter Jung
released January 27, 2021
Lars-Erik ter Jung, conductor
Ingebjørg Lognvik Reinholdt, alto/folksinger
Recorded at Grorud kirke in Oslo, 12.10. and 19.10. 2020 by Geir Inge Lotsberg:
Design by Erik Johan Worsøe Eriksen.