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Reviews: The Image of Melancholy - Eike

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Reviews: 1

Review by nickc March 29, 2014 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
What struck me listening to this disc is what I could term the affinity of latitudes. Here we are in the northern climes, stretching from Scandinavia all the way to the British Isles, with an ensemble of 2 violins, a viola and violone, lute, two cellos and organ/harpsichord.
Track 1, an original work by the leader Bjarte Eike, immediately we have what sounds almost like the droning of bagpipes, then a violin straying off the tonal centre, Elizabethan England updated via the Appalachian Mountains.
We segue seamlessly into track 2, the great pavane "Image of Melancholy" by Anthony Holborne, the full consort (no dyspeptic cows here!), like Sibelius' 5th. you feel the music could unfold in great arcs until the end of time.
Track 3, strumming lute and the plaintive soprano of Berit Solset, to me so redolent of Tudor England.
Track 4, a rustic and piquant Norwegian wedding march for violin and viola.
Track 6, an ethereal organ wafts in from the distance. We are in a church, and dare one say we can see where Howard Shore would have got his inspiration for the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, as the soprano soars above the melody, more piquant violin from Eike. Is that the sound of distant waves mixed in at the end?
Track 7, Heinrich Biber, surpassed only by Bach himself in his writing for the violin. Such characteristic curlicues from the Eike, baroque underpinnings from the organ.
Let us move forward to Track 10, even dear Bissie himself has admitted he was surprised when he received the raw music: the words "strangled" and "cat" come to mind initially, although that would be a disservice. I have previously alluded to a splash of Balkan rusticity, a pinch of paprika to spice up a Yorkshire pudding of a disc. It is a traditional Slovakian folk song imploring a mother not to leave her child. Milos Valent (the violist) accompanying himself, we have left the Well-Tempered Clavier far behind, if indeed that tuning was ever of any interest here!
Track 15, is there such a thing as ur-melancholy, its quintessence? If so "Flow my Tears" from Dowland would have to be it.
Finally Track 20, and we are in the Scotland of Auld Lang Syne to complete the arc of affinity I raised above. Eike's violin and the lute lament the death of the composer's wife. As if in celebration of this lovely disc the other instruments join in to farewell us, laughter through tears, though hopefully BIS will allow us many more discs from Eike and the Barroksolistene.
The 24/192 sound is magnificently present and clear. We seem to be in the middle of the ensemble with instruments surrounding you, drawing you in to the circle of melancholy itself.

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