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Ketil Bjornstad


  • Type CD
  • Label ECM
  • UPC 0602537454792
  • Catalog number ECM 3745479
  • Release date 25 April 2014
Physical (CD)

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About the album

Ketil Bjørnstad previously explored the life of Edvard Munch in his acclaimed 1993 novel Historien om Edvard Munch. In the same period he also collaborated with singer Kari Bremnes on the album Løsrivelse, based around Munch texts. When invited to compose music for choir in 2011, Bjørnstad’s thoughts turned once again to Munch and to the writings, still not widely known, of the proto-Expressionist Norwegian painter. With these as his guide, Bjørnstad shaped Soloppgang (“Sunrise”) subtitled “A cantata on texts by Edvard Munch”.

In his liner notes, Bjørnstad observes that “the texts written by Munch can be compared to his paintings in their power and intensity. Texts from different periods in Munch’s life have been used in Sunrise. Munch always wrote something about his motifs before painting them. These were often short prose texts describing the subject matter he envisioned for the picture. His prose style was heavily influenced by August Strindberg and the Norwegian anarchist and writer Hans Jæger. He produced modern, often crudely crafted pieces of writing that had a sketch-like quality, but that he would repeatedly re-edit. He worked on several ideas for novels, and wrote a number of short stories. They all portray existentialist dilemmas: surviving or being destroyed, believing or observing.”

The changing moods of the writings inspire very different musical settings. Kari Bremnes appears as solo vocalist in several pieces. Eight of the sections of the cantata include the Oslo Chamber Choir as well as Ketil’s hand-picked group of players, some of them familiar to ECM listeners. (Bjørn Kjellemyr, who also played on Bjørnstad’s first ECM album Water Stories, has been bassist for the very different groups of Terje Rypdal and Rolf Lislevand, while percussionist Hans-Kristian Kjos Sørensen can be heard on recordings with Christian Wallumrød and Misha Alperin.)

Sunrise was released first in Norway in November 2013 – in connection with the 150th anniversary of Munch’s birth – and met with a most positive critical reception. “Kari Bremnes is a formidable Munch interpreter,” wrote Norway’s Audophile. It’s almost as if she goes into a special mode in these songs ... Sunrise is a wonderful production that joins the ranks of Ketil Bjørnstad’s vast range of good and interesting releases.”

CD booklet includes liner notes by Ketil Bjørnstad, and texts by Edvard Munch in Norwegian and English.

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