KETIL HVOSLEF (b.1939): Chamber Works, Vol. 4 - Piano Quintet, Sextet for Oboe, Bassoom, Trombone, Trumpet, Violin and Cello, Beethoventrio for Piano, Clarinet and Cello, Nordic Counterpoint for Fiddles and Bottles.
Catalogue Number: 09T070
Label: LAWO Classics
Description: The Sextet is an early work, from 1972, but it already foreshadows many elements of Hvoslef's mature style - a bsically tonal language, rhythmic alacrity, insistent ostinati, and humour. Quoting Brahms, the composer acknowledges borrowings from Stravinsky ”Even a donkey could hear it". (For your convenience the booklet helpfully includes a picture of the donkey.) Beethoventrio takes a happy little fragment of Beethoven and perverts it into a grimacing nightmare against a persistent ticking rhythm and a constant sense of ominous, threatening pursuit. Nordic Counterpoint is a brief humorous occasional piece - you can read about the occasion in the booklet - the jaunty violin parts are accompanied by a 'rhythm section' of blowing across the tops of tuned bottles. The 2003 Quintet is a large (27 minute) single span, full of unremitting tension. The material on which this sustained argument is built is astonishingly minimal - abrupt little energetic gestures like eddies in a still pool, enigmatic chord sequences - so when finally an irritable ostinato with scurrying embellishments arrives it is almost a cathartic relief. The hyperactive mechanism eventually runs out of steam, and the piece fades into ambiguous silence. Various artists.