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Nils Okland / Sigbjorn Apeland

Lysoen - Hommage a Ole Bull

  • Type CD
  • Label ECM
  • UPC 0602527402468
  • Catalog number ECM 2740246
  • Release date 01 April 2011
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About the album

In this strikingly attractive album, Norwegians Nils Økland (violins) and Sigbjørn Apeland (piano) pay tribute to one of the larger-than life figures in their country’s musical history - composer/performer Ole Bull (1810-1880).  

This is the first album ever recorded in Bull’s former home, the Villa Lysø on the island of Lysøen, off Norway’s west coast. Both Nils and  Sigbjørn were previously directors of the Ole Bull Academy in Voss and have an encyclopaedic grasp not only of Bull’s music but also the sources that inspired it.  

Now primarily known for his melodic and romantic orchestral music, Ole Bull in his day was celebrated for his extraordinary virtuosity as a violinist and for his improvisational prowess. His most ardent admirers ranged from Franz Liszt and Edvard Grieg to Mark Twain and William Thackeray, and many critics at the time regarded him as a natural successor to Paganini. He played at most of the European courts but also had a lifelong love of folk music, and befriended many of Norway’s hardanger fiddle players.  

Nils Økland  and Sigbjørn Apeland: “We don’t claim to improvise as Bull did, but we use many of the same themes that he used, and – as with him – our improvisations are often based on Norwegian folk music.”  

Økland and Apeland recorded several hours of music at Lysøen, from which producer Manfred Eicher made the selection for this album.   

It’s a recording that can appeal to classical listeners, devotees of improvisation and admirers of folk music.   

“Lysøen: Hommage à Ole Bull” marks an ECM debut for Sigbjørn Apeland. Nils Økland’s solo debut for the label, “Monograph”, was released in 2008 to rave reviews. “(The disc) captures the qualities that set Økland apart from those who can merely play. With Økland you get the sense that the instrument is an outlet for a vision.” Økland has a reputation as a renewer of folk-based music, and he has long bridged the distance between traditional and experimental music. In addition to his solo disc, he can be heard on two recordings with the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble. 

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