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Alfred Janson (b.1937) was one of the first Norwegian composers to drag his country’s music out of the bitter uncertainty that was the legacy of discredited nationalism and a degree of creative ‘collaborationism’. Janson was shaped by jazz, which explains the improvisational freedom of his melodica introduction to Tre dikt av Ebba Lindqvist and to the album. The device appears again in a choral reworking of the mighty Construction and in Ky og vakre Madam Ky, a Harald Sverdrup haiku that recasts the Vietnam war as a single, deceptive block print of rosy cloud and dangerous wind. The latter is a favourite Janson trope: it features on the title piece, with yet more melodica. Elsewhere, the texts are biblical or Shakespearean, or from Emily Dickinson in the case of Sarabande, a poem not so much about mortality as about how hard it is to fit life into the short term we’re given. Janson is hugely important in Norwegian music, and Grete Pedersen approaches him with concentration, respect and much affection.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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