Odes and Elegies: A Portrait of Zhou; Marble Songs; Shostakovich in Memoriam; Vita; Love’s Last Rites
Tom Ottar Andreassen (flute), Jan Bertelsen (oboe d’amore), Bjarne Magnus Jensen, Henning Kraggerud (violin), Ole Eirik Ree (cello); Norwegian Radio Orchestra/ Ingar Bergby; Oslo Camerata; Arctic Chamber Orchestra
Sheva Contemporary SH 174
Norwegian composer Marcus Paus is something of a traditionalist, and this live recording offers an engaging introduction to his warmly accessible music.
The disc opens with A Portrait of Zhou, a concertino for flute and orchestra, originally intended to accompany a new choreography featuring four kung fu monks. Soloist Tom Ottar Andreassen’s playing floats and zings, and the close recording captures the energy and presence of this winning performance. Paus’s score comes perilously close to Orientalism with its parallel fifths, sliding strings and somewhat over-enthusiastic use of the bell-tree, but the track is nonetheless an enjoyable listen.
The remaining compositions include two arresting solo works for violin and oboe d’amore, alongside Shostakovich in Memoriam for cello and strings, written for the composer’s 100th anniversary. Drawing on Shostakovich’s famous musical cryptogram of DSCH, the work charts a mesmerising course between menace and melancholy, also capturing something of the intensity of Tavener’s The Protecting Veil in its luminescent string writing.
The disc concludes with Love’s Last Rites for violin and strings, a delicately plaintive work performed here with flair but somewhat let down by the mixed recording quality.