Erling Sunnarvik – Excursion (2013) SACD ISO

Erling Sunnarvik – Excursion (2013)
SACD Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 59:39 minutes | 833 MB
Genre: Classical | Publisher (label): Lawo Classics LWC1052

This inventive programme results from a chamber recital of players of the Oslo Philharmonic, led in this case by bassist Erling Sunnarvik. The double bass has a relative dearth of original pieces, so we must expect some arrangements, done skilfully in this case by pianist Nils Lundstrцm. Add a string quintet & the guest mezzo of world renowned Annika Skoglund, & we have the makings of a sort of Philharmonic “Schubertiad” chamber concert.
Ever since the landmark recordings of the Eccles Sonata by Gary Karr (a former teacher of Sunnarvik), this work stirred audiences who liked the similarly false Adagio in G minor for strings (not!) by Albinoni. Henry Eccles (c.1670-c.1742) was an English Baroque composer & violinist, 1 of a family of musicians from the generation following Henry Purcell. He was a Musician to William & Queen Mary, then Musician to Queen Anne (1701-1714), after which he moved to Paris & became a member of the band of Louis XIV. Eccles was a bold plagiarist, a not uncommon artistic habit in the Baroque – Handel frequently borrowed material from other composers. In 1720 Eccles published 12 Solos for the Violin in 2 books of which 18 movements are actually from Giuseppe Valentini’s Allettamenti per camera Op. 8 & 1 movement is from F.A. Bonporti’s Invenzioni Op. 10; the rest are composed by Eccles. In the case of the G minor sonata, only the fast movements are by Eccles. It is now frequently transcribed for other strings, but mostly the bass as here.
Erling Sunnarvik largely dispenses with Baroque playing practice & invests the Sonata with full-blooded Romanticism of the “noblemente” style, particularly in the 2 slow movements where we find ample vibrato, discreet rubato & slowing before cadences. The Allegro & Vivace, however, are crisply articulated; the former is amusingly gruff & the latter scurries along with bravura.
Singing Russian art songs accompanied by a double bass might seem to be an oddity, but the pairs of Glinka’s & Tchaikovsky’s songs are delightfully rendered by international mezzo-soprano Annika ‘Skogland. Most listeners will be familiar with Tchaikovsky’s ‘None but the lonely heart’, delivered sympathetically with a nicely-paired mellow mezzo voice & the rich resonance of the double bass.
Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754-1812) is hardly a household name these days. In 1785, he established 1 of Vienna’s 1st music publishing businesses, where he, for a number of years, would publish music by the most prominent Viennese composers. His own copious list of compositions includes at least 8 operas (composed during the 1790s), over 60 symphonies, numerous concertos (many for the flute, probably due to his friendship with the Flautist Franz Thurner), more than 40 flute quartets, a large amount of string chamber music, piano music, & several collections of songs.
Hoffmeister’s Solo Quartet #2 stretches the classical sonata form by granting leadership to the double bass, accompanied by violin, viola & cello. The Oslo players give a very stylish Viennese sound to this inventive piece, despite their notably slower pace in each movement, compared to Gerhard Dzwiza & friend’s recording for Christophorus (RBCD).
Returning to the Romantic era, Lundstrцm’s adroit arrangement of Ernst Bloch’s ‘Prayer’ from his Suite ‘From Jewish Life’ for 5 strings & double bass is presented. This intense & passionate movement could well be considered as the apex of the Oslo “Schubertiad”.
The recital’s finale is clearly of significance to Sunnarvik. Arne Hellan (1963-2002) began his career as a bassoonist, then a full-time composer. ‘Excursion for double bass & piano’ was commissioned from him by Sunnarvik & is a significant modern addition to the repertoire of the double bass. There are 3 movements, called ‘Promenade’ 1,2 & 3. The music is discursive, & suggests (to me) 2 companions talking to one another about journeys they have had. There are subtle changes in mood & interactive energy, with plenty of Webern-like dissonance. One feels like one is eves-dropping on quite intimate conversations, such is the rapport between Sunnarvik & Lundstrцm.
It’s a pity that the recording doesn’t stretch to a Mch format, where the different acoustics of the Sofienburg & Ris Churches in Oslo would be more obvious. The 2ch sound stage is more or less 2-dimensional, but the instrumental & vocal timbres are very well captured in a recording which carefully takes consideration of the number of instruments.
Arrayed in its attractively-produced Digipak (confusingly without any visible mention of SA-CD, Hybrid or Stereo), the slip-booklet is in Norwegian & English in parallel columns. The programme brings some unusual instrumental/vocal mixes, & little-known music mixed with devoted favourites. There is no doubt that Sunnarvik & his double bass are the stars. Orchestral bassists are well used to making jokes referring to the perennial problems of tuning (suggesting that a few cm each way doesn’t matter). However, be assured that Sunnarvik is, for a bassist, very good at tuning his notes – apart from the inevitable slight bending into or out of a note from time to time.

Henry Eccles: Sonata for double bass & piano
Glinka: “Doubt”; Elegy “Do not tempt me needlessly”
Tchaikovsky: “O verweil”, Op. 16 No. 2; “Nur wer die sehnsucht kennt”, Op. 6 No. 6
Hoffmeister: Quartet for double bass, violin, viola & cello
Bloch: From Jewish Life (Prayer)
Arne Hellan: Excursion


Sonata For Double Bass And Piano
1. Largo 3:03
2. Allegro Con Spirito 1:34
3. Adagio 2:15
4. Vivace 1:30

Four Songs Arranged For Mezzo-soprano, Double Bass And Piano
5. Doubt 5:21
6. Elegy: Do Not Tempt Me Needlessly 3:57
7. O VerWeil 4:55
8. Nur Wer Die Sehnsucht Kennt 3:35

Solo Quartet No 2 For Double Bass, Violin, Viola And Cello
9. Allegro Moderato 5:27
10. Menuett 3:19
11. Andante 3:21
12.Rondo 4:41
13. Prayer (From The Suite “From Jewish Life”) 4:24

Excursion For Double Bass And Piano
14. Promenade 1 3:04
15. Promenade 2 3:40
16. Promenade 3 5:34

Erling Sunnarvik – double bass
Annika Skoglund – mezzo
Nils Lundström (Lundstrom) – piano
Vegard Johnsen – violin
Aslak Juva – violin
Stig Ove Ose – viola
Hans Jans Groh – cello
Kenneth Ryland – double bass

Recorded in Sofienberg Church in Oslo, 12-14 March 2012 and in Ris Church Oslo, 16 May 2012.


%d bloggers like this: