Thursday, 9 July 2009

Revolution in Risor - Norway

Twenty years ago, Leif Ove Andsnes and friends founded the Risør Festival as a kind of summer camp for chamber musicians, where they could come together in a quiet Norwegian coastal town and make music for their own pleasure. Many concerts take place in an 18th century stave church in the Norwegian style. Because it's a musician's festival, it attracts performers like Heinrich Schiff, Ilya Gringolts, Severin von Eckardstein, Truls Mørk, Christianne Stotjin and others. A few years ago Ian Bostridge went, delighted by the congenial atmosphere where musicians engaged with each other's genres.

Douglas Cooksey is a regular. Read his report on Risør 2009 HERE. It's a beautiful piece of writing - enjoy ! This year's theme, of a sort, is revolution, featuring lots of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Schoenberg, each revolutionary in his own way. "Risør is nothing if not eclectic", says Cooksey. So among the Bach, Schubert and Beethoven, there are three new works by Ralf Wallin, and something called "Pictures reframed" where Andsnes plays Mussorgsky's Pictures from an Exhibition in a fish factory with visual images screened behind him. This is due to tour in London, Berlin and the US. Says Douglas: "It will be controversial".

"Similarly controversial although oddly memorable was Reinbert de Leeuw's extraordinary re-imagining of Schubert and Schumann's most famous song-cycles with orchestral accompaniment. Schubert and Schumann it certainly was not, and Barbara Sukowa has no voice to speak of, frequently resorting to parlando … but it was mesmerising theatre nonetheless and somehow completely true to the extreme spirit of the Romantic Era, capturing its joys and pains.

With Sukowa visually acting out every song as she wandered through the audience, it was all gloriously over the top and at certain moments – 'Meerestille' lingers in the mind like one of those magical Dutch marine paintings by de Cuyp where the sailing ships hang motionless on a glassy sea – it was also deeply affecting. 'Heidenroslein' too, ending in a shriek, retold the true story of the original song – it is about a rape – far more effectively than those coy renderings to which it is often treated by famous singers."

Anyway, read the whole article (link above), and visit the Risør website HERE
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