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Arctic (Eldbjørg Hemsing)

Eldbjørg Hemsing (violin); Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra (Sony Classical)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Jacob Shea: The Arctic Suite; plus works by Grieg, James Newton Howard, Sommerro etc
Eldbjørg Hemsing (violin); Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra
Sony Classical 19439936082   47:17 mins

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Eldbjørg Hemsing says she intends her album to combine ‘unique and memorable melodies with a vivid orchestral sound that matches the grand panorama of the Arctic to create a kind of film score for the concert hall, a soundtrack for a journey in your mind’. The six movements of Jacob Shea’s Arctic Suite certainly evoke the world of film music. Tonal, harmonically slow-moving, even in the single fast movement, with soaring horns at climaxes, this could underscore any nature documentary, but there’s nothing specifically Arctic about it.

It’s well played, and glamorously recorded, as are all the other short tracks. Some of them inhabit the same cinematic world: Sommerro and Gjeilo in particular. There’s more life and originality in Frode Fjellheim’s The Return of the Sun, which includes some joiking (a sort of traditional singing of the Sámi people); and Rautavaara’s Whispering reaches out with greater harmonic range and sense of shape. It’s left to the oldsters Palmgren and Ole Bull to show how memorable a good melody can actually be: and Grieg’s The Last Spring draws the most passionate performance from Hemsing.

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Martin Cotton