REVIEW OF DVORAK&SUK RECORDING IN FANFARE

Fanfare Review of Eldbjørg Hemsing’s second solo album release

“…flawless intonation, a lovely tone, and, in the bargain, magical phrasing. The finest musicians possess both a keen, unique musical insight, and the technical ability to communicate those insights to their audiences. Hemsing is such an artist. And throughout, Hemsing plays with a true sense of joy that is irresistible… If you are looking for a superb version of the Dvořák Violin Concerto in first-rate sound, the new Hemsing BIS issue gets my unqualified recommendation… This new BIS recording by Eldbørg Hemsing documents the work of a major artist.”

Ken Meltzer | Fanfare | 2 August 2018

Earlier this year (Issue 41:6, July/August 2018), my Fanfare colleagues Colin Clarke and Jerry Dubins offered the highest praise for a debut disc on the BIS label, featuring Norwegian violinist Eldbørg Hemsing performing the Shostakovich Concerto No. 1, and the Concerto in G, op. 25 by Hjalmar Borgström. Now it is my turn to do the same for Ms. Hemsing’s subsequent release, a pairing of the Dvořák Violin Concerto with two works by his pupil and son-in-law, Czech composer Josef Suk, the Fantasy in G minor, and Liebeslied, op. 7, no. 1.

To be sure, the recorded competition in the Dvořák Concerto is strong. My favorites are a 1950s EMI version with Nathan Milstein, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and William Steinberg, and an early-1960s Supraphon disc with Josef Suk (the composer’s namesake and grandson) as soloist, and Karel Ančerlleading the Czech Philharmonic. Hemsing’s new version belongs in that august company. After appearing as soloist in the January 1, 1879 world premiere of the Brahms Violin Concerto, Joseph Joachim requested Dvořák to write a similar work for him. Joachim did not ultimately perform the premiere of the Dvořák Violin Concerto (that honor went to the distinguished Czech violinist František Ondříček). Nevertheless, Joachim worked closely with Dvořák in the creation of the Violin Concerto, with the expectation that it would serve as a showcase for his talents. Of course, Joachim was one of the greatest violinists of the 19thcentury, and the Dvořák Concerto demands a virtuoso of the highest order. Hemsing is more than equal to all of the challenges. Throughout, the soloist is often called upon to play mercilessly exposed passages in the highest reaches of the instrument. Hemsing dispatches these episodes with flawless intonation, a lovely tone, and, in the bargain, magical phrasing. Much the same may be said about all of the virtuoso sections of the work. I don’t think the adjective “breathtaking” to describe Hemsing’s playing is at all hyperbolic. But focusing upon isolated passages in Hemsing’s interpretation risks not doing it justice. To me, the most compelling aspect of Hemsing’s account of the Dvořák Concerto may be found in her grasp of the work’s overall architecture. Throughout, I had the distinct impression that the soloist was approaching each portion with the intent of seamlessly connecting it to what follows. The finest musicians possess both a keen, unique musical insight, and the technical ability to communicate those insights to their audiences. Hemsing is such an artist. And throughout, Hemsing plays with a true sense of joy that is irresistible. While I don’t think that the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Alan Buribayev, equals the tonal richness and vibrant playing of Pittsburgh/Steinberg and Czech Philharmonic/Ančerl, their contribution is of a high level. And the gorgeous recorded sound on the new BIS release offers a far more realistic and thrilling sonic picture than that offered by the prior recordings I mentioned, each well more than a half-century old. If you are looking for a superb version of the Dvořák Violin Concerto in first-rate sound, the new Hemsing BIS issue gets my unqualified recommendation.

In her first BIS recording, Eldbørg Hemsing made a conscious decision to pair a highly-familiar work (Shostakovich 1) with one that has languished in obscurity (Borgström G Major). Hemsing follows a similar approach in the new release, although both Josef Suk and his Fantasia in G minor are both far better known than the Borgström Concerto. Indeed, the Suk Fantasia has frequently appeared as a disc companion to the Dvořák Concerto. Suk was a highly accomplished composer (and for that matter, violinist), who was capable of individual, expressive, and emotionally powerful music (his Asrael Symphony, for example). The Suk Fantasy strikes me as a rather episodic work, but one containing many attractive episodes that certainly afford the soloist the opportunity to display both technical and interpretive prowess. It’s not surprising that Hemsing plays this work superbly as well. But here, I think that the intensity Ančerl and the Czech Philharmonic bring to their 1965 recording with the wonderful Suk (the younger) make a better overall case for the piece.

The BIS recording concludes with Stephan Koncz’s transcription for violin and orchestra of Suk’s Liebeslied, from his Six Piano Pieces, op. 7. It’s a lovely, romantic work that Hemsing plays with great affection.

The booklet includes brief commentary from Hemsing, an essay on the works by Philip Borg-Wheeler, and artist bios (in English, German, and French). Thisnew BIS recording by Eldbørg Hemsing documents the work of a major artist. If you are at all interested in hearing her, and/or are in the market for recordings of the featured works, please do not hesitate. Very highly recommended.

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 CD REVIEW IN PIZZICATO

“PIZZICATO SUPERSONIC AWARD: An excellent interpretation of Shostakovich’s first Violin Concerto is paired with the almost unknown, yet interesting concerto written by Norwegian composer Hjalmar Borgström, which equally experiences a more than adequate performance.”

Uwe Krusch | Pizzicato | 7th May 2018

Eröffnet wird diese CD mit dem Violinkonzert von Hjalmar Bjorgström. Wie so viele Norweger hatte er seine Ausbildung in Deutschland, in seinem Fall in Leipzig erhalten. Fand er auch das Studium an und für sich wenig als bereichernd, so inspirierte ihn die reiche Musikkultur, weswegen er lange verweilte. Als er dann endlich nach Norwegen zurückkehrte, war er so in dieser Welt verfangen, dass er dem hochromantischen Stil treu blieb und sich auch nicht darum bemühte, Elemente der norwegischen Musik in sein Wirken aufzunehmen. Das registrierte Grieg mit Verwunderung.

Das Violinkonzert von Borgström ist also diesem romantischen Stil verbunden und, wie der neutrale Titel anzeigt, auch ohne programmatischen Hintergrund, wenn es auch einen narrativen Charakter hat.

Klassisch ist die dreisätzige Form und man hat immer wieder den Eindruck, alte Bekannte wie Brahms, Mendelssohns, Schumann zu treffen, da es die Sprache seiner berühmten Vorgänger intuitiv übernimmt. Dennoch kann man ihm kein Plagiat vorwerfen. Das Stück entwickelt durchaus einen eigenen Charme und ist handwerklich nach allen Regeln meisterhaft gestaltet. Nur hinkt es den neuen musikalischen Entwicklungen zur Entstehungszeit 1914 hinterher.

Eldbjorg Hemsing kann geigerisch aus dem Vollen schöpfen. Ihr Spiel strahlt Souveränität aus, es ist temperamentvoll und bietet dem Hörer einen klaren und schlackenlosen Ton. Dadurch kann sie diese Rarität im Repertoire so ausleuchten, dass das vielleicht ein wenig biedere Werk trotzdem erstrahlt und man mit Interesse bei der Stange bleibt. Ihre hochentwickelten gestalterischen Fertigkeiten setzt sie danach für eine durch und durch überzeugende Darstellung von Shostakovichs erstem Konzert ein. Dieses eine breite Palette von Stimmungen abbildende Werk durchdringt sie mit derartiger Tiefe der Darstellung, dass es eine reine Freude ist. Besonders die Passacaglia lebt von der auch die kleinsten Nuancen auslotenden und herauskitzelnden Ruhe, bevor sie die Burlesque kunstvoll ausgetanzt.

Gemeinsam mit den galant zupackenden Wiener Symphonikern unter Olari Elts werden alle Farben der beiden Werke effektvoll zur Geltung gebracht. Die ausgezeichnete Technik der Aufnahme vervollständigt die positiv zu benennenden Punkte.

FORTE FEATURE FILM WITH ELDBJØRG HEMSING

“Forte” is the new feature film from David Donnelly(“Maestro“) on three strong, utmost remarkable and ouststanding women who are achieving unlikely success in classical music: Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing, Argentinian composer and conductor Lucía Caruso and Russian-born violinist Tatiana Berman from the United States.

Story: Forte is the international story of three women who are challenging industry norms by making their own rules in a musical genre steeped in tradition. A young Norwegian soloist champions a rare, self-discovered composition and risks a promising career to bring it to life. A small-town girl, born and raised in the Russian Arctic, gives up an executive position at a top artist management corporation to create her own international maverick agency. An Argentinian composer gets the opportunity of a lifetime. And a cultural entrepreneur and mother of three struggles to balance her family and career. The one thing these bold, game-changing individuals have in common is: strength.

Direction/Production: Forte is written and directed by David Donnelly, founder of Culture Monster and director of the acclaimed hit documentary Maestro. It is produced by David Donnelly and Anastasia Boudanoque, founder of Primavera Consulting. Executive Producer is Roland Göhde of the Göhde Foundation.

Filming Locations: Sintra, Portugal; Cincinnati, Ohio; Paris, France; London, England; New York, New York; Rhinecliff, NY; Mendoza, Argentina; Aurdal/Oslo, Norway; Berlin, Germany; Moscow, Russia

> Forte website
> Forte on Facebook

The first official trailer of “Forte” is out now:

ELDBJØRG HEMSING ON NRK KLASSISK

Eldbjørg Hemsing on NRK Klassisk: “My Favorite Music”

Eldbjørg Hemsing in “My Favorite Music” on Norwegian governmental broadcasting station NRK takes us from traditional music in Valdres through classics like Bach and Beethoven up to the collaboration with Chinese composer and Academy Award winner Tan Dun and to a new release of the Violin Concertos by Borgström and Shostakovich.

Eldbjørg Hemsing shares stories that shed light on the music with program director Stein Eide.

The 1h54min radio feature in Norwegian language can be listened to at following weblink:

> Eldbjørg Hemsing – NRK Klassisk “My favourite music”

ELDBJØRG HEMSING STORMEN ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

Eldbjørg Hemsing named 2018 ‘Artist in Residence’ at Stormen Konserthus

Violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing is the ‘2018 Artist in Residence’ at Stormen Konserthus Bodø Norway, where she will perform in concert and recital on several occasions throughout the year. The iconic concert hall, which is situated in Bodø in the far North of Norway, was unveiled in 2014 and has been praised for both its world-class acoustics and initiative in presenting musical excellence. In her first appearance at Stormen Eldbjørg Hemsing will perform Massenet’s Thaïs: Méditation at the New Year’s Gala Concert (5 January 2018), together with the Nordnorsk Opera og Symfoniorkester – Arctic Philharmonic and conductor Henrik Schaefer. She returns in spring to perform Hjalmar Borgström’s Violin Concerto in G major, op. 25 (9 March) with the Nordnorsk Opera og Symfoniorkester – Arctic Philharmonic and Eva Ollikainen – Conductor, with an additional performance at KulturHuset i Tromsø. Also featured in the Residency are performances of Dvořák ́s Mazurek and Halvorsen’s Norwegian Dances for Violin and Orchestra at the NOSO ́s outdoor concert at Nordland Musikkfestuke, whilst her final appearance will be a specially programmed recital with the acclaimed Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski. “I am honoured to be appointed Stormen’s ‘2018 Artist in Residence” commented Eldbjørg Hemsing. “I can’t wait to get up to the North again where I have such fond memories of previous performances and where the wild and powerful nature gives a different dimension of musical inspiration. I am particularly proud to be performing Borgström’s violin concerto which is a piece that I have become passionate about and which deserves much more attention than it currently receives. He is a Norwegian composer who was famous at the beginning of the 20th century but whose name has completely dropped from programmes both at home and abroad.”

About Stormen Konserthus Bodø / Stormen Concert Hall Bodø

Stormen Konserthus Bodø / Stormen Concert Hall Bodø’s world-class acoustics ensure optimal conditions for classical masterpieces as well as the performances of pop/rock shows, theatre, dance and conferences.The large hall seats 900 people and offers some of the worlds best acoustics for classical music. Variable acoustic panels and a full size flytower and orchestra pit makes this hall equally suitable for opera, ballet, pop, jazz, rock and theatre. Our Steinway grand piano was carefully selected by Leif Ove Andsnes. The small hall seats 240, the chamber hall around 80. The foyers are well suitable for concerts and receptions, and legendary club venue Sinus (460 capacity) has the perfect atmosphere for jazz and rock. “We are very proud to appoint Eldbjørg Hemsing as the ‘2018 Artist in Residence’. She has truly established herself as a top international artist and we look forward to the variety of her virtuoso performances at our concert hall.” Rolf-Cato Raade, director Stormen.