Review: Fire Ritual Recording in The Strad

The Strad Issue: June 2019 
Description: ‘World music’ violin concertos receive fiery, thrilling performances

Theatrical, charismatic and intricately detailed, these two violin concertos by Tan Dun are the perfect showcase for his sensuous sound world.

As a teenager Tan became the conductor of a travelling Peking Opera troupe: echoes of its colourful style are never far from his delicate textures, recorded here with brilliance and vibrancy.

The first concerto, ‘Rhapsody and Fantasia’, grew out of an ancient opera melody. From this, Tan conjures an eclectic but immensely likeable work that somewhat improbably pits dance-worthy beats (in two movements entitled ‘hip-hop’) against a rich seam of lyricism from the violin.

Under the baton of the composer himself, Norwegian Eldbjørg Hemsing shows a deep affinity for this music, from the lush, yearning lyricism of the Rhapsody’s middle-movement Malinconia to the more esoteric Fantasia, in which lovely pinpricks of orchestral detail add shade to the violin’s searching lines.

The five-movement ‘Fire Ritual’ of 2018 builds on the earlier work’s sense of ceremonial, the violin pitted against the war-like, powerfully expressive declamations of the orchestra.

After the brittle march of the third movement, the tumult clears for the solo violin to emerge. The shared, gorgeous melody of strings and soloist in the fourth movement gives way to a final, sorrowing melody from the violin, perfectly judged by Hemsing: a haunting end to a compelling disc.

CATHERINE NELSON

https://www.thestrad.com/reviews/eldbj%C3%B8rg-hemsing-tan-dun/8915.article

Review: Fire Ritual Recording in Süddeutsche Zeitung

« 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)»

https://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/klassikkolumne-noble-wehmut-1.4296605

Review: Dvořák&Suk Recording in Süddeutsche (DE)

“…mit der 28 Jahre alten Eldbjørg Hemsing begeistert nun wieder eine junge Geigerin aus Norwegen. Hemsing ist nicht nur eine feinsinnige und kluge Interpretin, sie entlockt ihrer Guadagnini auch einen sehr persönlichen, unverwechselbaren Geigenton. Zart, intim und filigran wirkt er im Kern, dabei aber selbst im gehauchten Piano noch sinnlich und klangvoll.”

Julia Spinola | 2. Oktober 2018 | Süddeutsche Zeitung

Es muss etwas Verzauberndes in den nordischen Fjorden und Berglandschaften liegen. Nachdem die bereits mehrfach preisgekrönte Vilde Frang die internationalen Podien erobert hat, begeistert mit der 28 Jahre alten Eldbjørg Hemsing nun wieder eine junge Geigerin aus Norwegen. Mit Musik des weitgehend unbekannten norwegischen Komponisten Hjalmar Borgström hatte sie im April ihr Debüt gegeben. Auch auf ihrer zweiten CD meidet sie jetzt die ausgetretenen Pfade und spielt neben Antonín Dvořáks Violinkonzert die selten zu hörende Fantasie in g-Moll für Violine und Orchester von Dvořáks Schwiegersohn Josef Suk. Hemsing ist nicht nur eine feinsinnige und kluge Interpretin, sie entlockt ihrer Guadagnini auch einen sehr persönlichen, unverwechselbaren Geigenton. Zart, intim und filigran wirkt er im Kern, dabei aber selbst im gehauchten Piano noch sinnlich und klangvoll. Im leidenschaftlichen Forte, etwa im Eröffnungsthema des Dvořák-Konzerts, beginnt dieser eindringlich singende Ton irisierend zu leuchten. Mit ein wenig Fantasie hört man hier den großen David Oistrach heraus, dessen Schüler Boris Kuschnir Hemsings Lehrer war.

ELDBJØRG HEMSING IN BR-KLASSIK KLICKKLACK

Portrait of Eldbjørg Hemsing in “KlickKlack” | BR-KLASSIK | 7th May 2018

“KlickKlack”, music magazine for Classical Music, Jazz and good Pop Music, is the only format in which two world stars – cellist Sol Gabetta an percussionist Martin Grubinger – are giving the TV viewers a very close experience on how professional artist work, rehearse and perform. The imagery is modern, the camera extremely subjective.

Eldbjørg Hemsing has been guest of Martin Grubinger in the BR-KLASSIK “KlickKlack” feature from 7th May 2018, beside Michael Sanderling, Chief Conductor of Dresden Philharmonic, Gautier Capuçon, French cellist, and pianist Jens Thomas.

DEBUT ALBUM ENTERING GERMAN TOP 20 CHARTS

Borgström violin concerto and Shostakovich violin concerto no. 1

With her solo debut recording Eldbjørg Hemsing entered the Top 20 of the German Classic Charts of May 2018, representing the timeframe from April 13 until May 10, 2018. The album which has been released as high-resolution (SA)CD on the acclaimed Swedish label BIS is featuring violin concertos by Hjalmar Borgström and Dmitri Shostakovich, recorded with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Olari Elts.

  1. Ludovico Einaudi – Elements
  2. Katja Riemann, Lucas & Arthur Jussen – Saint-Saëns: Der Karneval der Tiere
  3. Riccardo Muti & Wiener Philharmoniker – Neujahrskonzert 2018
  4. Tōnu Kaljuste & NFM Wrocław Philharmonic – Arvo Pärt: The Symphonies
  5. Ludovico Einaudi – Islands | Essential Einaudi
  6. Gautier Capuçon – Intuition
  7. Daniel Hope & Zürcher Kammerorchester – Handel Arias
  8. Menahem Pressler – Clair De Lune
  9. Midori Seiler & Concerto Köln – Vivaldi: La Venezia di Anna Maria
  10. Alexandre Riabko, Hamburg Ballet & John Neumeier – Nijinsky: A Ballet By John Neumeier
  11. Jonas Kaufmann – L’Opéra
  12. Nuria Rial & Maurice Steger – Baroque Twitter
  13. Cecilia Bartoli & Sol Gabetta – Dolce Duello
  14. Jonas Kaufmann – Dolce Vita
  15. Jóhann Jóhannsson – Englabörn & Variations
  16. Nils Mönkemeyer – Baroque
  17. Bjarte Engeset – Grieg: Complete Orchestral Works
  18. Diego Fasolis, Julia Lezhneva & I Barocchisti – Vivaldi: Gloria
  19. Eldbjørg Hemsing – Borgström & Schostakowitsch: Violinkonzerte
  20. The King’s Singers – Gold

> Weblink to German Classic Charts of May 2018 at “Concerti”

DEBUT CD REVIEW IN THE STRAD

“…Eldbjørg Hemsing […] makes a good start with this powerful performance. A gorgeous, open-hearted piece, full of flowing lyricism, to which she brings warm and beautiful playing… Hemsing weaves steadily and unfussily, but with increasing emotional intensity. The finale scuttles along brilliantly.”

Tim Homfray | The Strad | 9th May 2018

The Norwegian composer Hjalmar Borgström was famous in his day but quickly fell into obscurity, his music bedded in the Germanic 19th century and considered old-fashioned and ‘not Norwegian enough’ at the beginning of the 20th. His compatriot Eldbjørg Hemsing wants to bring him back to notice, and makes a good start with this powerful performance of his 1914 Violin Concerto.

It is a gorgeous, open-hearted piece, full of flowing lyricism, to which she brings warm and beautiful playing. Her phrasing is supple and nuanced, flecked with neat little touches of vibrato and variations of dynamic. The central Adagio is far-ranging, moving from musing opening to a jaunty central section, and on to something more torridly passionate before leading straight into the dancing finale. Hemsing deftly handles all the transitions.

It is a bit of a gear-change from Borgström to austere Shostakovich (Bruch would have worked nicely). Hemsing weaves steadily and unfussily, but with increasing emotional intensity, to the climactic double-stops of the first movement. In the Scherzo she plays with an edge of violence, biting and snapping. The orchestra matches her vivid playing, but the recording sets it in the background, in a resonant acoustic. She is as fine in the third movement as the first in progressively ratcheting up the tension before easing down into the cadenza, which in its turn grows steadily to a searing climax. The finale scuttles along brilliantly.