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A super disk and well worth investigatin. Music Web International

January 4, 2007

Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International

Twenty-five separate movements for violin and guitar might seem a bit of a challenge but it’s nothing of the sort when the music is as enjoyable and varied as it is in these four works.
Sjøgren and Hanibal met when students at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Århus and from 1980 to 1994 performed as Duo Concertante, giving over 1,000 concerts and making recordings and radio and TV appearances. All the works on this disk were commissioned by them so they have the authority of composer-supervised performances.
Palle Mikkelborg is a major figure in jazz, having played with the Gil Evans Big Band, George Russel Big Band as well as with Jan Gabarek and Gary Peacock. His output is varied, to say the least, ranging from works for orchestra and choir to Aura, which was recorded by Miles Davis in 1984. Everything Matters is a nine movements set of pieces which range from the serious to the humorous. There’s the smallest, and quite discreet, use of electronics and pre-recorded sounds - this latter of children playing - which add to the atmosphere of the music. It sounds as if the duo is actually performing directly to the children. At nearly half an hour this work doesn’t seem a moment too long and it’s very inventive, with its varied moods and sonorities.
Herman D Koppel was a pupil of Carl Nielsen who wrote in all genres, and as a performer was a passionate advocate for Nielsen’s piano music; he made two valuable recordings of the complete works. His Duo is a serious work in three short movements. The language is terse and aphoristic, so fleeting are some of the ideas, and this is, probably, the most thought-provoking of all the works on this disk.
Jersild studied with, amongst others, Albert Roussel and the French influence can be seen in some of his works. His output wasn’t large but we should be grateful for what there is. These 10 Impromptu are true miniatures - half of them play for less than 60 seconds - and they are serious and fun, by turns, and most enjoyable.
It’s always good to welcome any music by Vagn Holmboe, not just because he was a fine composer, but because he was a friend of mine. It has been said that Holmboe never wrote any light music, and this is true - there’s no Tam O’Shanter Overture, for instance - but some of his works are lighter than others. This Duo Concertato is a case in point. Although the outward appearance is of a serious composition in three movements, the outer, fast, ones are filled with fun and they surround a heart of gold. Truly a portrait of the man himself. I loved him and miss him.
Although it is not so stated, this must be a re-issue of a Danish EMI LP (7496791) which was issued in about 1989. The sound on that LP was excellent and the re-mastering for this CD is superb. There is a feeling of space in the acoustic and the two players are well balanced. The notes don’t tell us anything about the works heard, but do give a potted biography of each composer and performer, complete with photograph, and there’s lots of photographs of dancers in soft focus.
A super disk and well worth investigating. -- Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International