The violin concerto Fire Ritual – ‘A music ritual for the Victims of War’ – was written for and premièred by Eldbjørg Hemsing. The musical narrative is divided into four parts: Cruel Wars, Innocent People, Mantras of the Heavenly Birds and Eternity. These four themes create a musical ceremony for the victims of war, for those who have suffered through human history, and a prayer for eternal peace.
“This excellent disc of violin concertos showcases Dun’s dexterity and imagination in writing for the instrument and features radiant and sophisticated performances from the violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing…[In Rhapsody and Fantasia] Dun explores every inch of the solo violin with a depth of imagination that calls to mind Berg’s groundbreaking concerto…[Fire Ritual] blends the fierce with the meditative, and is performed with integrity and precision by Hemsing to complete this fine disc.“– BBC Music Magazine
Fire Ritual unfolds and extends from a single note D (‘re’ on the solfège scale) – Re is a prefix used with the meaning ‘again’: REnew, REstart, REsurrect… As a ritual and ceremonial rite, the work is centred on the note ‘re’, calling for the REturn of souls and the REbirth of all victims of war so that they may RElive another life, and love once more.
“While some of Tan Dun’s ideas may seem rather overextended at times…what comes across most powerfully here is the dynamic three-way synergetic split between Tan Dun as conductor, Eldbjørg Hemsing’s striking characterisation of the solo violin’s material, and the sheer force and power of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Recommended.“– Gramophone
« It is thanks to the young talents who not only want to ride old war horses, but also present new things, that the instrumental concerto as a genre will never die out. Norwegian violin princess Eldbjørg Hemsing already made a name for herself as an archaeologist when she successfully excavated the unconventional, surprisingly attractive violin concerto from 1914 by her fellow countryman Hjalmar Borgstrøm. Now she shows her interest in contemporary music. Together with the Oslo Philharmonic, conducted by the composer, she plays two Tan Dun concerts: “Rhapsody and Fantasia” and “Fire Ritual”, which was written for Hemsing. These pieces, in which Beijing opera, percussion thunderstorms and the most modern composition techniques blend together ingeniously, offer Hemsing every opportunity to fully unfold her sound fantasy. This ranges from flashing top notes and sharp glissandi to the imitation of traditional Chinese singing techniques or almost soundless whispering. This sounds attractive, enchanting and demands a soloist of eminent quality, like Hemsing. (Bis)»– Süddeutsche Zeitung