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We’re greatly looking forward to welcoming you to Fjord Classics 2018, Sandefjord’s new international chamber music festival which kicked off to great acclaim last year. Once again, the programmes will be created around repertoire conceived in our civilisation’s starry moments, from centuries ago and up to the present day. The musicians, the lenses that will focus this light into the laser beams of the here and now, are this year as last year, among the finest that grace the world’s stages.
This year’s profile will be characterized by our brother people a little to the south. That most continental of the Nordic countries, which also took to its heart the gracefulness of Rococo, while much remained more rudimentary here at home. Grieg mixed folk music and fiddle-like fifths with the whole of his own refined, harmonic universe, and made us all feel that this was Norwegian.
The hairs on the neck of every Finn rise whenever Finlandia is played. Of course, Sibelius wrote vast amounts of music, symphonic works of great originality, pathos and minimalism uniquely combined. But also, beloved songs.
Carl Nielsen is also a true symphonist, who has created his own uniquely characteristic symphonic events. Like Sibelius, he has combined this spectacular oeuvre with a large output of songs that really have become part of popular heritage. And in addition to this, chamber music in various formations. Carl Nielsen was, moreover, an excellent writer, and a great admirer of Mozart, so Amadeus will be heard this year too.
Contemporary music in today’s Denmark is of exceptional quality, and we’re extremely fortunate in being able to welcome to Sandefjord this year perhaps its foremost representative, Bent Sørensen. Just as Carl Nielsen from things Danish became international, living on beyond his own time, Bent Sørensen is undeniably one of the few people of today well on his way towards classical immortality. He has also been showered with international prizes. Most recently he won the Grawenmeyer Award in connection with the New York Philharmonic’s premiere of his commission work ´Evening Land´.
Sørensen’s music sparkles; here we find crystals of intimate humanity. Guileful, heartfelt, occasionally nostalgic and lightly veiled, but never cryptic. His music doesn’t need to make itself interesting, for it is interesting quite spontaneously. And it is intensely beautiful, whispering tenderly rather than roaring. Sørensen has a princely corpus of chamber music, composed for, among others, the Esbjerg Ensemble. We’re looking forward to presenting such treasure, played by among others his wife, the fantastic pianist Katrine Gislinge and also The Danish String Quartet, who stand out as one of today’s absolute foremost quartets, with a repertoire ranging from Haydn and Beethoven, via contemporary music to Danish folk music. This bearded gang unites the exceedingly rarefied with the boldly popular. Together with the accordionist Andreas Borregaard, newly appointed professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music, they’ll be presenting the world premiere of Bent Sørensen’s work ´Dancers and Disappearance´ for accordion and string quartet. The last premiere of a piece of music by Sørensen was in New York’s Avery Fisher Hall, so we feel that Sandefjord is now making a deserved mark in the world of music.
Among others who have won notable awards lately, in this case the Statoil Scholarship, is Bror Magnus Tødenes, our sensational tenor. He has already appeared in important roles at the world’s most prestigious opera houses, Vienna, Salzburger Festspiele… and now: Fjord Classics.
Of an even younger generation of singers there’ll be a return visit from Aksel Rykkvin, who guested us last year and who has captivated the music world with his crystal clear soprano voice. He now continues as a baritone, nature’s most striking manifestation of the young man’s multifarious colours of expression.
Otherwise, we’ll be joined by some of the world’s absolute foremost instrumentalists: Liza Ferschtman (violin), just as at home as a soloist as within a chamber ensemble; the young, sensational Sandra Lied Haga (cello). At the piano, in addition to Katrine Gislinge, we’ll be able to hear Piers Lane from Australia, a man as fluent in word as at the keyboard. The brilliant clarinettist Sharon Kam is always a delight to see and hear on the podium, with her sparkling energy, and Håkan Hardenberger, primus inter pares of Nordic, and therefore the world’s trumpet players will be making the sun’s own instrument shine. Collin Currie, possibly today’s foremost percussionist, unique as a soloist with an extensive solo career, will be serving timbre combinations we rarely hear, much of the time together with Hardenberger.
In our final concert we will present some of the excellent talents from the Norwegian music scene when young Aksel Rykkvin is joined by his colleague from the Norwegian Opera Children´s Chorus, 14 year old Inga Lohne-Otterstad. My dear brother, violinist Kjell Tomter, completes the ensemble for Johan Svendsen´s challenging string octet. Despite being my ´little´ brother, he can hardly be described as new growth, having recently reached the ripe age of 50. Musicians, however, don´t age as others...
I feel expectation quivering as I write about the music and musicians that will fill wonderful Sandefjord just after Midsummer’s Eve, when summer and the holidays still are virgin and light green. I hope you feel the same way.
A big welcome!
Lars Anders Tomter