Discover Pods: Podcast Spotlight with ‘The Nordics Unveiled’

Discover Pods, Podcast spotlight

DECEMBER 10, 2020 by Discover Pods

You may think you know Nordic history, but there is still so much to be discovered. After all, the stories span generations, stretching back hundreds of years. In this podcast, Norwegian host and violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing aims to answer one question: What is typically Nordic? To investigate, Hemsing and her expert guests deep dive into Nordic mythology, folk music, philosophy, architecture, nature, and more. She speaks with celebrated composers and inspiring artists, discussing inspirations, styles, and dreams. Have no fear if you’re one to zone out during longer podcasts because Hemsing’s interesting questions will bring you right back in.

The Nordics Unveiled really takes listeners on a journey, showing the weird and wonderful side of Nordic history! Hemsing gives ample space for her guests to share their experiences and the audio is crystal clear. She even uses some of her own music in the show’s introduction, so listeners get a truly Nordic experience. This is recommended for the curious and lovers of Nordic history. 

The Nordics Unveiled official

We were fortunate to talk with Hemsing about the podcast, how they differentiate from other podcasts, and their future plans in podcasting. See below for our full Q&A.

Listen on your favorite podcast platform:


– MORE PROVIDERS –

DISCOVER PODS: How’d you get into podcasting?

HEMSING: During the lockdown and numerous concert cancellations due to COVID-19, I finally had the chance to do projects that I usually don’t have the time to fit into my calendar. And during a normal concert season, when performing around the world one of the most common question I get asked is “what is typically Nordic” and “what is the sound of the north”. As a Norwegian, you don’t really ask yourself this question, so I became very curious myself to find out! As a passionate communicator, I thought let’s combine the best components in the situation and share the passion of music to my core audiences and people, who might not know much about classical music.

DISCOVER PODS: In your own words, why should listeners tune in to The Nordics Unveiled?

HEMSING: I really hope people will join me on the journey to discover what the Nordic is, whether its music, history, art, design or just some of the societal values. It is particularly the societal values that are underlying all the conversations, so I would it say the Nordics Unveiled is almost an introduction ahead of your first or next visit. With exceptional guests and surprising discoveries, I hope this podcast will offer new inspiration and insights for listeners to dive into the Nordics.

DISCOVER PODS: What kind of feedback have you heard from your listeners?

HEMSING: We are still on the early side, with only 3 episodes released, but the feedback from listeners is very positive. I particularly feel so humbled, once reading a review from fellow Norwegians, who live on the other side of the world saying “the podcast really makes me feel like I am back home in the North”. So I hope this curiosity from audiences will continue.

DISCOVER PODS: Describe your recording set up? What equipment are you using?

HEMSING: I am quite lucky that I have a technical support to make the podcast sound as good as possible. As a recording artist, the quality of sound is something I would not be ready to compensate on. If not mistaken, we are using the Zoom recorder that is supposed to be one of the best.

DISCOVER PODS: What’s the biggest challenge you face as a classical musician in a role podcaster?

HEMSING: I think the biggest challenge creating a podcast is starting from scratch, without having any mainstream media to lean on as a full promotional challenge. Luckily, I have was able to introduce the podcast also to my performing audiences. On the other hand, I personally like to challenge myself being innovative and not following any other podcasting styles and trends.

DISCOVER PODS: Where do you want to take your podcast?

HEMSING: I would love to take the episodes of podcast on TV – I think we could make a truly fantastic series!

DISCOVER PODS: What other podcasts are you listening to now?

HEMSING: I mostly listen to Norwegian podcasts mostly. In general, I like a big contrast to my artistic profession, so I enjoy listening to the very fact and analysis based podcasts, rather than comedy.

DISCOVER PODS: Anything else you’d like to add?

HEMSING: Subscribe to the podcast and I hope you will join me on the journey to the mystical North!

TAGS The Nordics Unveiled

Klassiskmusikk.com: Eldbjørg Hemsing med ny podcast

Eldbjørg Hemsing violinist

Klassiskmusikk.com – Publisert 18. 11. 2020

Hva er typisk nordisk? Hva karakteriserer vår historie, utvikling og hvem er vi i dag? Disse spørsmålene stiller Eldbjørg Hemsing i sin nye podcast, The Nordics Uveiled, som lanseres i disse dager.

Hun tar sikte på å nå et internasjonalt publikum som for tiden er sulteforet på levende konserter, og inviterer dem til å legge ut på en reise nordover for å utforske temaer i nordisk mytologi, folkemusikk og samisk tradisjon, samt oppdage glemte nordiske verk innen musikk, filosofi, arkitektur og natur.

– Den såkalte «nordiske klangen» er sterkt inspirert av natur, stemninger og forskjeller, fra nordlys til høye fjell, dype daler og vann. «Lyrisk», «melankolsk» og «forsiktig optimisme» er ord som ofte brukes om det nordiske; det rene, enkle og pittoreske. Samtidig det modige og kraftfulle, som man forbinder med nordiske folkeeventyr – gjerne forbundet med varm humor. Mange av disse trekkene kan man finne igjen i andre kunstarter. Hvordan har historien formet oss og hva kan vi lære av hvordan vi er i dag? skriver Hemsing i sin presentasjon av podcasten.

De tre første episodene ligger allerede ute. Der presenteres Lasse Thoresen og hans bruk av folkemusikk, Mette Henriette med bruk av sin samiske arv og Ottar Kåsa som spiller «djevelens instrument» hardingfele. Hver episode har en kort skriftlig presentasjon, en spilleliste og lenker til aktuelle nettsteder for videre lytting.

Klassisk CD blogspot: Podcast: Unveiling Nordic (NO)

Klassisk CD BlogspotTrond Erikson , 16. november 2020

Fiolinisten Eldbjørg Hemsing har lansert podcasten The Nordics Unveiled, der hun ønsker å utforske temaene nordisk mytologi, folkemusikken, samisk tradisjon, oppdagelse av glemte verk innenfor musikken, filosofi, arkitektur og natur. Slikt blir det spennende lytting av.

Eldbjørg Hemsing har vokst opp i en bygd og et dalføre som har en rik folkemusikktradisjon som har påvirket og inspirert komponister som Grieg, Ole Bull og Halvorsen. Folkemusikken har vært en stor kilde til inspirasjon for mange komponister. Den nordiske lyden er også sterkt inspirert av naturen, stemninger og forandringer. Alt fra nordlyset, til dype fjell og daler, til vann. Den lyriske, melankolske og ofte forsiktige optimismen er et nøkkelord for å forklare hva som ofte kan karaktiseres som nordisk. Det rene, enkle og ofte billedlige. Samtidig som det er et mot og en pågangskraft som kan hentes fra nordiske eventyr, ofte med en lun humor. Mange av disse egenskapene vises også i andre sjangre enn musikk. Hvordan har historien formet oss og hva kan vi lære av hvem i er i dag?


Podcasten The Nordics Unveiled finner du her!

Oppland Arbeiderblad: Eldbjørg Hemsing med podkast om det mystiske nordiske (NO)

Eldbjørg Hemsing - The Nordics Unveiled for Oppland Arbeiderblad

Frode Hermanrud – Oppland Arbeiderblad, 8. 11. 2020

Eldbjørg Hemsing med podkast om det mystiske nordiske: – Jeg ser på podkaster som lydbøker som har tatt et steg videre

Det såkalte nordiske uttrykket har blitt en sjanger både innenfor litteratur og musikk, men hva er egentlig typisk nordisk? I podkasten «The Nordics Unveiled» dykker Eldbjørg Hemsing ned i det nordiske kulturhavet med spennende gjester som kartlesere.

Det nordiske uttrykket beskrives ofte som lyrisk og melankolsk uten de helt store faktene. Dramatikken i naturen, nordlyset, den mørke vinteren er så langt unna blinkende neonlys man kan komme. Sagt på annen måte: Det er stor forskjell på interiøret i en Volvo og en Kia, og musikken til den finske samtidskomponisten Kaija Saariaho kan helt sikkert beskrives som litt av hvert, men neppe svulstig og pompøs.

Hjemme er best

Med 95 prosent av spillejobbene satt på vent, fant Eldbjørg Hemsing ut at hun måtte ha noe finne på mens hun gikk og klødde i fingrene hjemme i leiligheten i Oslo. For ja, verdensmusikeren har flyttet fra Berlin og bosatt seg en trivelig biltur unna hjembygda Aurdal, et trekk hun er glad hun gjorde for ett år siden.

Read full article here

Musical chairs: new Stradivaris for top violin soloists

The Strad – September 16, 2020

Eldbjørg Hemsing receives the 1707 ‘Rivaz, Baron Gutmann’ while Janine Jansen has the 1715 ‘Rode, Duke of Cambridge’

Two of the world’s leading female violinists have been granted the use of ‘golden period’ Stradivari violins. Norwegian soloist Eldbjørg Hemsing is now playing the 1707 ‘Rivaz, Baron Gutmann’ Stradivari violin, owned by the Dextra Musica foundation. Its most recent player, Janine Jansen, has been gifted the use of the 1715 ‘Rode, Duke of Cambridge’ Stradivari, courtesy of a European benefactor. ‘I want to thank Dextra Musica for having given me the fantastic opportunity to play on one of the finest Stradivari violins for these past years,’ said Jansen. ‘The velvety beauty, depth and richness of sound have been a true inspiration for me. I wish Eldbjørg Hemsing and the “Rivaz, Baron Gutmann” a wonderful journey together.’

‘Being part of the Dextra Musica family for over twelve years, I am thrilled and grateful to continue expanding this fruitful collaboration,’ said Hemsing. ‘Having the support of a foundation loaning me this incredible violin, one of the world’s finest, is truly a honour as well as a huge artistic inspiration. I am very much looking forward to continue building the artistic legacy of the instrument as well as inspiring audiences with its sound.’

To read the full article follow the link on the Strad

Eldbjørg Hemsing joining HarrisonParrott for General Management

Eldbjørg Hemsing is delighted to announce change in her General Management, joining the roster of HarrisonParrott for her global representation.

Read the full announcement by HarrisonParrott below:

HARRISONPARROTT IS DELIGHTED TO WELCOME VIOLINIST ELDBJØRG HEMSING TO ITS ROSTER FOR WORLDWIDE MANAGEMENT

A champion of Norway’s rich musical tradition, Eldbjørg Hemsing made a name for herself in her native country beginning with her solo debut with Bergen Philharmonic at the age of 11. Today she counts amongst the leading violinists of the younger generation.

In the 2020/21 season Eldbjørg performs with orchestras such as Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra and Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Highlights of past seasons include performances with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in the opening concert of the Bergen International Music Festival 2020 and with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Zürcher Kammerorchester, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover and Shanghai and Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestras. Offering a broad repertoire, Eldbjørg has a close connection to Tan Dun, having premiered and recorded his violin concerto Fire Ritual. A passionate chamber musician, recitals take Eldbjørg to Mozartwoche Salzburg, Dialoge Festival Salzburg, Musikwoche Bad Berleburg, and to her own Hemsing Festival amongst others.

In addition to her engagements as a soloist Eldbjørg is actively involved in many societal projects. As Artistic Director and mentor in the SPIRE programme she follows her passion in supporting young talents with their artistic and personal self-development in the classical music world.

Opening concert of Bergen International Arts Festival

  • Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra with chief conductor Edvard Gardner
  • Einar Selvik
  • Mari Eriksmoen
  • Eldbjørg Hemsing
  • Leif Ove Andsnes

Welcome to the grand opening of the 68th Bergen International Festival!

​The Bergen International Festival is an annual celebration of the arts, which has taken place every year since 1953. Though we can’t share the joys of music and the stage in the same physical space this year, we are looking forward to sharing great artistic experiences during the 15 festival days online. This Opening Concert will be hosted by Arild Erikstad from NRK, the Norwegian broadcasting corporation, and the renowned Norwegian soprano Mari Eriksmoen.

The concert features a varied artistic menu, with the festival theme of movement as a starting point, and music from the Festival composer Jörg Widmann, Mozart and Pärt and others. The artists include Wardruna’s Einar Selvik, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing, to name a few, and you’ll also hear from the royal family and the prime minister of Norway.

Welcome to an extraordinary festival in extraordinary times!

Eldbjørg Hemsing with new recording release ‘Grieg – The Violin Sonatas’

Credits: Photography by Nikolaj Lund

Following the acclaimed recordings of concertos by Borgström and Shostakovich, Dvořák and Suk, and by Tan Dun, Eldbjørg Hemsing is following in the footsteps of her great-great-grandfather, who once inspired Edvard Grieg to compose one of his most famous works. Joint by Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski, Eldbjørg is embarks the journey of Grieg violin sonatas on her latest release on BIS Records.

As a celebrated ambassador of Norwegian cultural heritage, Eldbjørg Hemsing was always going to turn to Edvard Grieg eventually – a composer who is central to both Norwegian music history and the Romantic era in general. Hemsing’s new recording of Grieg’s three violin sonatas on BIS Records also has a much more personal biographic background, however.  

In 1848, Ludvig Mathias Lindeman received funding from the Collegium academicum of Christiania (Oslo) University to collect folk tunes for Edvard Grieg. During his travels across Norway, he stayed in Valdres and met Hemsing’s great-great-grandfather Anders Nielsen Pelesteinbakken, who sang a tune to him. Lindeman noted it down and Grieg later found it in the collection. The small fragment of the folk tune must have caught the composer’s attention and he subsequently used the melody as the inspiration and main theme of one of his greatest works for solo piano, the Ballade, Op. 24

Over 170 years later, Eldbjørg Hemsing is presenting her own interpretation of Grieg’s three sonatas for violin and piano. The sonatas are considered to be representative of different stages in Grieg’s artistic development and were composed over a period of 20 years. The second violin sonata can be seen as one of Grieg’s great successes in capturing the musical identity of his native country, particularly in the sequences based on peasants’ dances. Because of her passion for preserving Norway’s rich folk music heritage – as demonstrated in her previous projects such as the second ever recording of Hjalmar Borgström’s violin concerto – Hemsing was keen to explore the compositions of her famous fellow countryman, who so profoundly shaped the Norwegian cultural identity. 

Alongside the Grieg sonatas, Eldbjørg Hemsing is also presenting her first original composition „Homecoming – Varitations on the folk tune from Valdres“ as a testament to the personal significance of this new recording and its history. Moreover, in pianist Simon Trpčeski Hemsing has found a strong musical partner, an internationally acclaimed artist praised for celebrating the rich folk traditions of his own native country, Macedonia.  

Grieg Violin Sonatas will be available exclusively on Apple Music from February 21st 2020. The album will be released globally from March 6th 2020 on all streaming platforms as well as in physical format in your closest CD shop.

DEBUT CD REVIEW IN DEUTSCHLANDFUNK

Norwegian Discovery – Hemsing plays Borgström

Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing shows courage. On her debut recording she performs a violin concerto of Hjalmar Borgström, which is almost not known, and one of Shostakovich, on which famous colleagues have overstretched themselves. But Eldbjørg Hemsing already in her first attempt succeeds with grandiosity.

Christoph Vratz | Deutschlandfunk | 3. Juni 2018

Eine Sinfonie von Joachim Kaiser? Eine Klaviersonate von Karl Schumann oder Ulrich Schreiber? Eine Kantate von Eleonore Büning oder Manuel Brug? Was uns heutzutage in der Literatur noch vergleichsweise häufig begegnet, dass Kritiker selbst zu Autoren werden, bildet in der Musik die Ausnahme. Dafür muss man schon zu Robert Schumann, Hector Berlioz oder Claude Debussy zurückgehen. Doch auch für sie gilt: Sie wurden und werden vor allem als Komponisten wahrgenommen, und erst in zweiter oder dritter Linie als Musikkritiker. Bei Hjalmar Borgström hingegen ist das anders. Von 1907 bis zu seinem Tod 1925 schrieb er in seiner norwegischen Heimat Musikkritiken und wurde damit zu einer nationalen Instanz. Das Komponieren geriet für ihn mehr und mehr zum “Nebenbei”. Umso erstaunlicher, dass er nebenbei 1914 ein Violinkonzert schreibt.

Allegro con spirito, so hat Borgström das Finale zu seinem Violinkonzert überschrieben. Die Geige eröffnet furios. Dann klinkt sich das Orchester ein und bereitet den Boden für die weitere Gestaltung des Eingangsthemas: Es dominiert pure Spiellust, halb ungarisch “alla zingarese”, halb im Sinne der norwegischen Fiddle-Tradition.

Komponist mit eigenem Kopf und ohne nationale Scheuklappen

Erinnert dieser Beginn des Finalsatzes nicht ein wenig an das Violinkonzert von Johannes Brahms? Die Intervalle bei der Sologeige, die ungezügelte Spielfreude? Originär norwegisch klingt das jedenfalls nicht. Dafür gibt es biographische Gründe. Denn Borgström hat vorwiegend in Deutschland, ab 1887 in Leipzig und ab 1890 in Berlin studiert, wo er in Ferruccio Busoni einen prominenten Fürsprecher fand. Borgström selbst war fasziniert von der Macht der Programmmusik im Sinne eines Franz Liszt und auch von der Klangsprache Richard Wagners. Wieder zurück in Norwegen war Borgströms Musik nur wenig Erfolg beschieden. Das lag sicher auch daran, dass sie eben kein spezifisch norwegisches Idiom aufweist wie bei Edvard Grieg. Auch Grieg hatte in Deutschland studiert, wollte aber in Norwegen eine nationale Tonsprache etablieren. Genau das wollte Borgström nicht. Er wählte einen eigenen Weg. Sein Œuvre ist insgesamt, mit je zwei Opern und Sinfonien, wenigen Konzerten und Solowerken, eher schmal.

Erst ein Mal, nämlich im Jahr 2008, ist Borgströms Violinkonzert auf CD dokumentiert worden, mit Jonas Båtstrand, dem Sinfonieorchester der Norrlandsoperan und Terje Boye Hansen am Pult. Jetzt liegt das Werk in einer Neueinspielung vor. Sie übertrifft die ältere Version deutlich. Dabei handelt es sich um die Debüt-CD der norwegischen Geigerin Eldbjørg Hemsing. Schon als Fünfjährige hat sie mit ihrer Schwester vor der Königsfamilie ihres Heimatlandes konzertiert. Mit elf Jahren trat sie erstmals mit den Philharmonikern aus Bergen auf. Mit 22 erfolgte ihr internationaler Durchbruch, als sie sich bei der Friedensnobelpreisverleihung in Oslo präsentierte. Studiert hat Hemsing unter anderem in Wien. Die Noten zu Borgströms Konzert bekam sie bereits vor einigen Jahren geschenkt, doch blieben sie zunächst unbeachtet in einer Ecke liegen. Als die Geigerin dann doch einen genaueren Blick wagte, war sie schnell entflammt. “Was für eine fantastisch schöne, romantische Musik, und dabei auch noch gut spielbar”, so wird Hemsing in der Wochenzeitung “Die Zeit” zitiert. Die Wiener Symphoniker unter Olari Elts eröffnen dieses Violinkonzert, und nach nur wenigen Takten tritt bereits die Sologeige hinzu, anders als in den gewichtigen Traditions-Konzerten von Beethoven und Brahms. Auch wenn der Einsatz der Pauke am Beginn doch ein bisschen an das Beethoven-Konzert erinnert.

Die Tempi der Sätze zwei und drei sind in beiden vorliegenden Einspielungen nahezu gleich. Nur im ersten Satz sind Eldbjørg Hemsing und das Wiener Orchester etwas langsamer unterwegs, dafür mit ungleich klarerem Gestus. Die Übergänge gelingen fließend und natürlich, die Steigerungen organisch. Hemsings Ton leuchtet hell, aber nicht grell oder vordergründig brillant. Sie spielt durchaus mit Schmelz, aber frei von Kitsch. Wenn im Mittelteil des ersten Satzes die Musik immer dramatischere Züge annimmt, wenn Sologeige und Orchester sich mehr und mehr in einen Disput steigern, behauptet sich Hemsing geradezu kühn – mit Kraft und gleichzeitig mit einem flammenden Ton.

Top-Geigerin mit großer Klangfarbenpalette

Eldbjørg Hemsing spielt auf einer Guadagnini-Geige aus dem Jahr 1754, die ihr eine Stiftung zur Verfügung gestellt hat. Das Instrument ist, selten genug, fast noch im Originalzustand. Man muss sich nicht allzu weit aus dem Fenster lehnen, um zu behaupten, dass man von Hemsing künftig noch einiges hören wird. Denn wie sie im langsamen Satz mit warmen, fast bronzenen Klangfarben arbeitet, um zwischenzeitlich mit größter Selbstverständlichkeit den Ton ins Silbrige zu verlagern, das zeugt von großer Klasse und verspricht einiges für ihre Zukunft.

Was diese Einspielung so besonders macht, ist die Selbstverständlichkeit, mit der Eldbjørg Hemsing die leisen und sehr leisen Passagen meistert. Dann lässt sie ihre Geige wundervoll singen: geheimnisvoll und poetisch, arios und tänzerisch. unterstützt durch die zarten Zupfer der Streicher und kurze Intermezzi der Klarinette.

Vieles an dieser neuen Einspielung ist ungewöhnlich, vor allem das Programm. Denn eine direkte Verbindungslinie zwischen Hjalmar Borgström und Dmitri Schostakowitsch gibt es nicht. Als der Norweger 1925 mit 61 Jahren starb, war sein russischer Kollege erst noch auf dem Sprung zu einer großen Karriere. Schostakowitschs erstes Violinkonzert entstand 1948, zu einer Zeit, als die stalinistische Partei sein Schaffen mit Argus-Augen überwachte. Was nicht mit ihren Richtlinien konform ging, wurde abgelehnt, und der Komponist hatte Repressalien zu fürchten. Daher erfolgte die Premiere dieses Konzertes erst im Jahr 1955 mit David Oistrach als Solist.

Auch in diesem Konzert bilden Geigerin Eldbjørg Hemsing, die Wiener Symphoniker und Olari Elts eine Einheit. Das zeigt besonders der schroffe Gegensatz zwischen dem dunklen, einleitenden Notturno und dem bizarren Scherzo. Wie hier die säuselnden Bläser, Bassklarinette und Flöte, mit den schroffen Akzenten der Solovioline kontrastieren, das verrät Schärfe, Bitternis und, bezeichnend für Schostakowitsch, beißenden Humor. Das gilt in gleichem Maße für die sich unmittelbar anschließende Passage, wenn die Geige das Kommando übernimmt und die Streicher hinzutreten.

Verträumt bis bärbeißig – Schostakowitschs erstes Violinkonzert

Eldbjørg Hemsing ist gewiss kein musikalischer Muskelprotz, dem es in erster Linie auf äußere Effekte ankommt. Die Norwegerin erweist sich als sensible Künstlerin, die sich und ihren Ton immer wieder genauer Prüfung unterzieht. Daher findet sie für jede Stimmung einen adäquaten Ausdruck, ob verträumt und nach innen gekehrt oder bärbeißig und virtuos. Ihre technischen und musikalischen Fähigkeiten gehen Hand in Hand. Wenn es, wie im Finalsatz von Schostakowitschs erstem Violinkonzert, schnell zugeht, spiegelt diese Aufnahme den experimentellen Geist des Komponisten. Doch trotz der vielen, teils schnellen rhythmischen und dynamischen Umschwünge: Hemsings Geige klirrt nie, auch geraten die kurzen Linien nicht aus dem Fokus. Die Solistin weiß genau, wo sie hinmöchte und wie sie die Höhepunkte ansteuern muss, um deren ganze Wirkung so spontan und natürlich wie möglich herauszuarbeiten. Das ist eindrucksvoll und rundet den sehr positiven, stellenweise herausragenden Gesamteindruck dieser neuen Produktion ab.

Heute haben wir Ihnen die Debüt-CD der Geigerin Eldbjørg Hemsing vorgestellt. Mit den Wiener Symphonikern und Olari Elts hat sie Violinkonzerte von Hjalmar Borgström und Dmitri Schostakowitsch aufgenommen, erschienen ist sie als SACD beim schwedischen Label BIS.

ELDBJØRG HEMSING IN PRESTO CLASSICAL

Eldbjørg Hemsing on Borgström’s Violin Concerto

Katherine Cooper | Presto Classical | 14th May 2018

For her debut solo recording (out now on BIS), the Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing pairs Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with a very different (and far less familiar) work: the lush 1914 Violin Concerto by composer and music-journalist Hjalmar Borgstrøm, who initially studied in Oslo with his compatriot Johan Svendsen but went on to pursue a consciously Germanic style after spending time in Leipzig and Berlin.

I spoke to her recently about why this attractively lyrical work has fallen off the radar, where it sits in relation to other early twentieth-century concertos, and her immediate plans for further recordings…

The Borgstrøm concerto is a real curiosity – how did you come across it in the first place?

It was a bit of a chance encounter, really: a family friend sent a pile of sheet-music to my home in London which included the score, and I set it to one side for a while but when I started to go through it in detail I was really intrigued because it’s just so beautiful. It had only ever been performed twice (in Norway), so essentially it was completely forgotten: no-one knew about this piece, and I think it’s a great discovery!

Do you have any theories as to why his music never really entered the repertoire?

There are several factors, I think. First of all it’s because Borgstrøm was a little bit behind the curve in many ways: his timing was not the best! He was composing in this late Romantic style at a time when people were already branching out and moving away from that; of course there had been Grieg, who spent a lot of time travelling around and using folk-music in a very different way from Borgstrøm, who was much more interested in Romantic ideals. He spent a total of fifteen years in Germany, initially studying in Leipzig and then living in Berlin for many years – but by the time this concerto was premiered in 1914, World War One had broken out and in Norway it was considered almost improper to continue in this very German musical tradition. He also composed quite a few symphonic poems, an opera and some piano music, but I haven’t been able to find out very much about them because there aren’t that many studies in print!

You pair the Borgstrøm with Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto – what was the thought-process behind the coupling?

When the offer came to make my first recording I knew I wanted to include the Shostakovich – I studied the piece from a very young age and have performed it a great deal. It’s painfully emotional and really dark: you’re really pushed to the limit of what you can express as a human being, and I thought that with a piece like that you need something that’s very much a contrast. I wanted something that was the complete opposite, something much more lyrical and ‘white’ in sound, something Romantic…and the Borgstrøm seemed to fit the bill perfectly, particularly because people don’t know it!

Are there any other Norwegian concertos that you’d like to bring back to life – Sinding, for instance?

I used to believe that if something wasn’t performed very often there was probably a reason for it (ie that that quality wasn’t good enough!) but I have to say that since discovering Borgstrøm I’ve actually become very curious about what there is out there, so I definitely would like to go on a journey to see what else I might find…!

Given that many listeners will be new to this work, could you point us in the direction of one or two personal highlights in the piece?

I think there’s a particularly special moment in the first movement: there’s quite a long introduction before you come to the first melody, which initially comes in the strings, and it’s very pure and lyrical and tender. And the second movement is my favourite in many ways – it’s like an operatic aria, and it reminds me of something but I can’t quite put my finger on what…It’s very familiar in a sense, but at the same time it has its own very individual sound.

Do you see any parallels with other violin concertos which were written at around the same time? I hear echoes of the Sibelius concerto here and there…

Yes, there’s definitely something similar about both the melodies and the chords – the Sibelius concerto was written 10 years prior to this, so it’s not unlikely that Borgstrøm knew it! But there’s also an operatic quality to the work that reminds me of Wagner in places…

What are your immediate plans on the recording front?

I’m about to start recording with the Oslo Philharmonic and Tan Dun, whom I first met eight years ago. We’ve done a lot of projects together, and this one includes one brand-new concerto and some other smaller pieces.

And the two of you share a passionate interest in the folk music of your respective countries…

Indeed. I started playing the violin when I was very young and I also studied the Hardanger fiddle alongside it, because the area where I come from is very rich in folk-music; I’ve continued to play both instruments and I try to make sure that every year I do some projects which include folk music because I think it’s very important to keep it fresh and alive.

DEBUT CD REVIEW IN DEN KLASSISKE CD-BLOGGEN

Rating 6/6 Stars: “Eldbjørg Hemsing’s wide spectrum of sound and delicate virtuosity fits this concerto very well. She shows a technique and a virtuosity that is admirable. This recording can in many ways be regarded as Hemsing’s masterpiece – and she has passed this exam with flying colors.”

Trond Erikson | Den Klassiske CD-Bloggen | 7th May 2018

A Masterpiece

These are two widely different violin concertos for which Eldbjørg Hemsing has collaborated with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. And you are captured by her violin playing, which makes both of these concertos perfect.

Hjalmar Borgström (1864-1925) and his music have in many ways received a new spring in recent years. His opera “Thora on Rimul” and not least the orchestral works “Hamlet” (for piano and orchestra) and “Tanken”, as well as the violin sonata, have helped give Borgström the place he deserves in music history. His music is not “Norwegian” in the sense that he walks in Grieg’s footsteps. He stayed for long periods in Germany and gained much of his inspiration from European music life.

The quality of this “forgotten” concert is very good. And Eldbjørg Hemsing’s wide spectrum of sound and her delicate virtuosity fits this concerto very well. She has a musical timbre range that is impressive, something she greatly utilizes in this violin concerto.

That she knows well and masters the music of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) is beyond doubt. His first violin concerto is intense with its rhythmic and intense sound colors, and its is undoubtedly a masterpiece.

A number of great violinists have recorded this work – and the first was David Oistrakh, to whom the concerto is dedicated.

Hemsing has studied this work with the Ukrainian musician and Professor Boris Kushnir – a very good choice as she performs this concerto with a solid dose of Eastern European understanding. There is not a single tone that remains anonymous in her interpretation. She shows a technique and a virtuosity that is admirable.

Supporting her, Eldbjørg Hemsing has the very good Vienna Symphony Orchestra, attentively and skilfully led by Estonian conductor Olari Elts.

This recording can in many ways be regarded as Hemsing’s masterpiece – and she has passed this exam with flying colors.

The Violin Princess of Norway

She takes her concert public by storm all over the world with her 265-year old violin. The lauded musician Eldbjørg Hemsing from Valdres often expresses the sounds of the raw and beautiful Norwegian nature.

Eldbjørg Hemsing brings the sound of Norway to the world

“Eldbjørg is famous in China. We call her ‘The Princess of Norway’.”

The bold words belong to Tan Dun, who is among the world’s leading composers. The Chinese has collaborated with the Norwegian violinist for years and has even dedicated a specially written musical work to her.

Eldbjørg Hemsing started playing the violin when she was a four-year-old growing up in a picturesque village in Valdres in Eastern Norway. Now, people sit quiet and listen every time Eldbjørg lets the bow hit the strings on her G. B. Guadagnini from 1754.

236 years separate Eldbjørg and her musical tool, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more close-knit duo.

She plays all over the world, in cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong, Valencia, Frankfurt, Koblenz, Leipzig, Berlin, Cologne, Abu Dhabi, Oslo – and in her home town of Aurdal. In March 2018, she released a record with music written by Norwegian composer Hjalmar Borgstrøm.

“When I hear Borgstrøm’s compositions, I think of fjords and mountains and the feeling of moving through nature.”

What sounds did you grow up with in Valdres?
“I remember that the silence intensified all sounds, like the trickling of the water in a mountain stream, the summer breeze through the valley, or the gust of the wind in the tree branches. My mother was a music educationalist and my father worked as a mountain supervisor, so I grew up in a harmonious mixture of music and nature. I often went with my father to work in the mountains to check out the danger of an avalanche or measure fish stocks and water depths. I learned things like building a campfire for preparing meals”, Eldbjørg says.

Valdres is known for traditional folk music that is often mixed with new genres, and it was important to Eldbjørg’s mother that rehearsing should be fun. She could even get 15 minutes of rehearsal in before the children’s television programme started in the evenings.

And now you have played on the rare instrument you have on loan from a foundation for nearly ten years?
“The violin is very personal to me. The sound coming out of its body feels like my own voice. It has a heartfelt depth and warmth, and a wide array of colours. The first Hardanger fiddles are said to be from the 1600s. It’s incredible to think about how much my instrument has been through.”

Growing up, Eldbjørg took time off from the school in Valdres every Friday to travel about three hours to Oslo and the Barratt Due Institute of Music. Her first trip abroad went to the Czech Republic when she was eight. Later, she took lessons in the USA, and from then on concerts all over the world have filled up her calendar.

In March 2018, Eldbjørg released her debut album, including her discovery of the forgotten Violin Concerto in G major signed by Norwegian composer Hjalmar Borgstrøm (1864–1925), who was inspired by German Romanticism. She wanted to share her own enthusiasm about the work with her audience.

You draw a connection between Borgstrøm’s work and Norwegian nature experiences?
“Yes, I perceive his music as a very physical piece – complex and craftsmanlike. When I hear Borgstrøm’s compositions, I think of fjords and mountains and the feeling of moving through nature. The tones can resemble a smell or bring out memories of other encounters with nature.”

Chefs, like the one at Maaemo in Oslo, also say that they serve memories from Norwegian nature?
“Yes, and that is what is so strong about music – it can call forth a personal, but very distinct feeling.”

What is the most enjoyable thing about being a violinist?
“To resurrect a several hundred years old violin, and to breathe new life into old compositions so that both new and traditional audiences get to appreciate how great they are. I am not that interested in interpreting and renewing historical pieces of music, but rather in emphasizing their original strengths.”

Was classical music the rock ’n’ roll of that time?
“You might say that, and classical music is just as cool and relevant still. My line of work has much in common with elite sports. When I perform, I have one chance to deliver my absolute best. I set off with maximum tempo and concentration and don’t stop until I’m finished.”

In 2013, Eldbjørg and her sister Ragnhild started a yearly chamber music festival in their home town of Aurdal in Valdres. The sisters invite top-level musicians, many of whom have become their good friends. And even though the Hemsing Festival has grown bigger every year – in 2018, about 30 international artists performed for 12,000 people, and the festival was broadcasted on national television – the sisters want to keep the intimate feeling the acclaimed musicians get at this stunning place in Eastern Norway.

“International artist friends praise the clear light and clean air in Valdres. They say that it sharpens their senses. They get to taste local food like moose and wild fish, and we take them on skiing trips and other activities,” Eldbjørg says.

How much money is your violin from 1754 worth?
“I honestly don’t know, and that is fine with me. If I’d known, I would probably get the jitters.”

How do you preserve such an old instrument?
“It has to be looked after and cared for, because the wood is still alive even though it’s so old. The case has a humidifier and a hygrometer, and I go to a ‘violin doctor’ twice a year.”

Do you keep the violin as hand luggage when you fly, or do you check it?
“Always as hand luggage. No exceptions. I’d never let something that personal out of my sight.”

Are you ever longing back to Valdres?
“I know that I can always take a break there and find peace of mind. But it is important to emphasize that even though you come from a small and beautiful place, you can still travel and work wherever you want in the world.”

Article from visitnorway.com

MUSIKKULTUR – ELDBJØRGS ÆRA

Eldbjørg Hemsing står foran sitt store, internasjonale gjennombrudd. Med seg på reisen har hun en norsk fiolinkonsert som har vært glemt i hundre år.

Publisert 05.02.2018 | Ingvild Amdal Myklebust

Hovedscenen på Nationaltheatret i Oslo har aldri vært større enn den maidagen i 1996. På klakkende bunadsko inntar hun flomlyset sammen med storesøster Ragnhild på åtte. Bak seg aner hun konturene av det tunge sceneteppet og av moren som viser dem riktig neieteknikk. Foran dem venter et bekmørkt folkehav. Hun vet at kongefamilien sitter der ute. Og Wenche Foss som hun møtte i stad. Snart er de framme ved scenekanten. Da skal de løfte opp felene til haka og spille Briskjehauga slik de pleier. Bare en meter igjen nå.

> Weblink to Full Article

ELDBJØRG HEMSING ON NRK KLASSISK

Eldbjørg Hemsing on NRK Klassisk: “My Favorite Music”

Eldbjørg Hemsing in “My Favorite Music” on Norwegian governmental broadcasting station NRK takes us from traditional music in Valdres through classics like Bach and Beethoven up to the collaboration with Chinese composer and Academy Award winner Tan Dun and to a new release of the Violin Concertos by Borgström and Shostakovich.

Eldbjørg Hemsing shares stories that shed light on the music with program director Stein Eide.

The 1h54min radio feature in Norwegian language can be listened to at following weblink:

> Eldbjørg Hemsing – NRK Klassisk “My favourite music”