Hommage à Ole Bull; Nils Økland and Sigbjørn Apeland
Ole Bull (1810-1880) was a Norwegian legendary violinist and composer. After five decades of concert tours, the virtuoso had intended to settle down on the island of Lysøen, an island in the municipality of Os in Hordaland, with his wife and daughter in his villa Lysø (pictured above). There is always an intricate relationship between sound and place. For Bull, Lysøen was a place of great longing throughout his musical career. Almost 140 years later, Lysøen is still an invaluable source of inspiration for musicians Nils Økland and Sigbjørn Apeland after having played concerts in the villa year upon year. It is clear that the selection found on this album, all recorded within the villa itself, is inspired by the simple tranquility found in this villa and its surroundings. When asked by the King of Denmark to name his teachers, the violinist famously replied, 'The mountains of Norway, Your Majesty'.
The album juxtaposes both classical and folk worlds. In his time, Bull merged classical music with impulses from Norwegian folk music, epitomising his own individual violin technique. For those that heard his performances, it is said that Bull's sound draws heavily on Fritz Kreisler's tone. Listening to the album, it is clear that Bull had a huge impact on both folk and classical fields of music. For instance, in 1840, Franz Liszt wrote that:
'He is quite simply extraordinary. He is a sort of savage's genius, possessing an abundance of original, enchanting ideas. In brief, he has moved me; it is a long time since that has happened to me'.
Due to the influence from the Hardanger fiddle Ole Bull used a flatter bridge than usual on violins, and favoured a particularly long bow. This would have given his sound a true subtleness and soft, flowing edge from the use of bow. In this album, Nils Økland also plays with a flatter bridge together with gut strings (generally known for their use in baroque instruments). Sigbjørn Apeland plays on a grand piano that belonged to Bull's daughter Olea as well as Bull's harmonium. Nils plays on Bull's Guarneri del Gesù violin from 1734. In terms of performance technique, the album also stands as a great example of Norwegian folk improvisation. It is important to remember that improvisation was once a hall-mark of classical musicians. Ole Bull, who experienced his breakthough as a violinist in 1834, become renowned for creating spontaneous creative moments. Nils and Sigbjørn both improvise on Bull's themes and compositions.
In all, this album is a wonderful reflection of Ole Bull's artistic works and urges the relationship between musical fields to develop further. Furthermore, it is a celebration of musical sound and the relation to its landscape.
Free MP3 Download
Download a FREE TRACK by Los Destellos, taken from The Rough Guide To Latin Psychedelia. Simply enter your email address below.
You will be added to the WMN mailing list and can unsubscribe at any time.