Over het album
Meeting with Kjetil Bjerkestrand in 2019, violinist Sara Övinge found something she was looking for. He is the epitome of the symbiotic musician, drawing on experience and inspirations from a wide range of musical styles, from rock, pop through to contemporary. He describes the composition process as one part search for fixation points in a series of possible events, and one part exploration of friction caused by the union of the elastic and the mechanical. Harmonically, he often starts with Messiaen’s third mode. If you’re reading this with an instrument handy, from C this would be C-D-Eb-E-F#-G-Ab-Bb-B. There are three identical movements from each major third, C, E and Ab, which are also the only notes that appear in all three possible modulations. From this he derives three-chord sequences, with a penchant for triads, which he then stacks according to his desire and need to fill the soundscape. Count to three, and try it yourself!
However technical this may sound, Kjetil manages to distill a music of his own which seems both familiar and foreign; instantaneous, yet profound. Where many would succumb to the saccharine and pathos-filled, he creates an undercurrent of something that, for want a better definition, I would call a sensitive matter-of-factness.
A theme that Sara aimed to pursue in the project was the juxtaposition of the electronic and the organic. Philip Glass’s 2nd Piano Concerto is arranged for synthesiser and strings, a kind of updated version of Vivaldi’s string orchestra with continuo. But where previous recordings have gone for an electronic sound resembling the baroque harpsichord, Sara wanted to create a more electro-acoustic soundscape, thus achieving a common thread between the two works. If you want to do this with the intellectual property of a living artist, you’ll of course have to ask for permission. In communication with Glass’s representatives it was made clear that the voice called “keyboard” in the score was allowed to be a sound “chosen by own judgment and taste”.
This kind of flexibility can not be taken for granted, but the music of Phillip Glass brings with it a kind of instrumental neutrality that accommodates changing instrumentation. And on the whole, Glass allows the performer a great deal of freedom in his American Four Seasons, such as with the order of the movements – if the soloist feels this particular movement should be Winter, then so be it. There is something disarming and accessible about the fact that one of the grand old men of music today entrusts his work with the musicians to such an extent, and it’s a golden opportunity for Sara to take the work in the direction she desires. The synthesiser sound you hear on this record was developed in collaboration with Anja Lauvdal, the Norwegian jazz pianist/composer, who has collaborated with both Sara and Kjetil on several projects. It is of course up to the experience of each individual, but this particular listener feels that the timbre accentuates the sensation of otherness one gets when hearing Glass’s music; the flicker of a forgotten world just out of reach, something that exists beyond the familiar and can only be glimpsed.