Playing classics

We continue the topic opened in the post “Shine on, you crazy tree!” and write about the records, directly relating to Kristian Blak. This time we have more classics and less jazz.

Kristian Blak «Images» (Tutl, 1992)

Listen to the album on Spotify.

If the major part of Kristian Blak’s records are, after all, jazz, based on ethnic music, then «Images» is just pure and simple “academ”. Six compositions by the Faroese composer, performed by the Bratislavian ensemble Moyzes Quartet, is a very powerful and, at a time, exquisite chamber music. Usually, Blak tries to involve as many mediums of expression in his music as possible (minimalistic «Amaldus» is, probably, an exception), but here we see a string quartet: two violins, viola, violoncello, and guitar, that helps from time to time. Herewith, the «Images» sounds lush and, what’s the most important, emotionally. Moreover, very simple: violins and viola don’t squeal like a stuck pig, and violoncello is restrained and lofty. Actually, there’s no sense to beat about the bush: it’s a very melodious and strikingly beautiful record.

Kristian Blak «Ljós Og Myrkur» (Tutl, 2012)

Listen to the album on Spotify.

Another instrumentally minimalistic, but musically lush work by Kristian Blak. «Ljós Og Myrkur» is the collection of clarinet and guitar compositions. The clarinet player Anna Klett and the guitar player Ólavur Jakobsen  carried out the composer’s conception perfectly. Besides, each musician was able to demonstrate his skill in mastering instruments. Ólavur in «40 Mile Ground» and Anna in «Drrrunnn», competing with birds and sounds of nature. This particular play seemed the most interesting, by the way. Such an academic reading of «Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict» in the album «Ummagumma» by the well-known band Pink Floyd. In these experimental fancies, the music by Blak is especially interesting. Its exceptional originality and reference to the origins (traditional music of different nations) wins over. Besides, the composition «Landslag Nr.2» is based right on the Faroese national song.

Ólavur Jakobsen «Awake, My Soul And Sound Your Strings, 10 Variations On A Faroese Melody» (Tutl, 2013)

Listen to the album on Spotify.

Academic guitar is, of course, very peculiar. It’s practically impossible to listen to it in vast majority of people. In case of Ólavur Jakobsen, this stereotype doesn’t work somehow. The musician manages to fill the space with the sounds of his guitar so greatly, that one can hardly feel bored. In this record, the guitar player performs the music of six composers, among which I’d especially emphasize Kári Bæk and his play «Pictures». If he is difficult to listen to in major compositions (especially, in compositions with many violins), then his guitar compositions are very good for perception. «40 Mile Ground» also sounds in the album of Kristian Blak. Because of this, actually, I’ve fitted the record in my review.

Woodwind Quintet Boreas, Jesper Koch, Ola Røkkum, Ólavur Jakobsen «Boreas» (Tutl, 1993)

Listen to the album on Spotify.

The same happened to this record. Two compositions by the well-known for us Kristian Blak sound in this album: «Svabo» and «Dialogue», and those by other Faroese composers. Играет всё это великолепие Woodwind Quintet Boreas and three guest musicians perform this great splendor: the piano player Jesper Koch, the violist Ola Røkkum, and the guitar player Ólavur Jakobsen. Thus, the latter aren’t so evident in the record, so, actually, we hear brass music. To my mind, it sounds rather specific. As if all the chords rebelled in the symphony orchestra and their parts are performed by the horns. However, it is a matter of taste. The high-quality performance of the decent material (what another country can impress by such a great number of classical composers per head?), of course, is worth of respect. And deserves it for sure.

Kvonn «Hvonn» (Tutl, 2007)

Listen to the album on Spotify.

In fact, Kvonn is Yggdrasil. The only different being that there’s no jazz in it, only strong folk music of the Faroe Islands and other Scandinavian countries. Besides, there’s no much of real folk music in this specific record. Almost all the compositions are written by the members of this group: Kristian Blak, violinist Angelika Nielsen and Ívar Bærentsen (mandoline, guitar, violin). I have to hand it to them, the musicians managed to adapt “tradition” perfectly. It’s evident, that they do it with big love and a gentle hand of folk music, and with a smile. I’m almost tempted to break into dance to the strains of this music feast.

Reviewer by Anton Kovalsky.

Translated by Irina Boiko.

Russian version reviewer.