Økland and Apeland attempt to faithfully recreate the mystique behind Ole Bull’s compositions. Bull, an 19th century composer, has largely been forgotten by the current generation of musicians and listeners alike. This CD, released earlier this year by ECM Records, looks to restore Bull’s good name as well as showcase the technical virtuosity of Økland and Apeland. I believe that the duo is able to succeed in these listed goals; what results after listeners put down Lysøen Hommage a Ole Bull is nothing less than revelatory.
Stusle Sundagskvelden is a solid introduction to Ole Bull’s music; the resounding arrangements, recorded in Bull’s home, contain enough nuance and twists and turns to require multiple listenings to fully “get it”. La Mélancolie, the second composition on Hommage, is interesting not for its titular feeling but for the brief flittering of happiness at the periphery. It is this double meaning-heavy style of arrangement that threads its way through the entirety of Bull’s composition. I believe that Økland and Apeland do the most service to Bull’s work through the inclusion of these small things into their own music.
Tjødn is stuck toward the end of the release, but should be one of the first tracks that listeners focus in on – while only a three-minute effort, it contains substantial gravitas and sticks with one long after the disc closes shop. Sæterjentens Søndag is the final track on Lysøen Hommage a Ole Bull, doing more in 150 seconds than many artists can include in a full arrangement – the use of empty spaces and sparce arrangements stands nicely alongside more populated lines and approaches.
Top Tracks: I Rosenlund under Sagas Hall, Theme from Nocturne
Nils Økland and Sigbjørn Apeland – Lysøen Hommage a Ole Bull (CD) / 2011 ECM Records / 16 Tracks / http://www.ecmrecords.com