2. Ribers no. 8 – traditional danish
Three children went on a music summer camp. They played football. They played the violin. They became friends. Fast forward into the present, Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen (violin), Frederik Øland (violin) and Asbjørn Nørgaard (viola) are now the funding members of the Danish String Quartet, alongside the cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin. They had a successful debut, their concert being the highlight of the 2002 Copenhagen Summer Festival and they currently have under their belt nine prizes won and seven albums. Wood Works (Dacapo 2014), their fourth album, is a highlight of this week: a not so traditional album for a classical string quartet, but infused with traditional Nordic folk music. Without imagining the success it would have, they crowd funded the album, arranged the tunes themselves, spent a week in Denmark and recorded a CD that would be played at music festivals, clubs, concert halls, television, radio and Starbucks. Here’s a little sneak peek.
1. Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia from Spartacus by Aram Khachaturian
Switching to sadder tunes, coming first this week is the Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia, the love theme which made the ballet Spartacus famous to the people, after it was used by a popular BBC drama series in the 1970s. The ballet was written by Aram Khachaturian, the most well-known Armenian composer of the 20th century, and it features the loosely adapted story of the slaves revolt against the Romans, led by Spartacus. This adagio is making an appearance in the second act, when Spartacus and his wife Phrygia celebrate their escape from Roman captivity. It should spark joy (of being reunited again) and hope (for a brighter and free future) but then, alas, the story is one infused with sadness and drama, which is what this adagio actually makes you feel when listening to it. It’s less a celebration of reunification and more a desperate cling to a brief moment which the lovers have for themselves, foretelling of the inevitable and final separation that death brings about.
Disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive list of all the works curated by Clemency Burton-Hill in the book Year of wonder: classical music for every day. To enjoy the full catalogue of pieces proposed by the author along with her comments on the composers and the music itself, feel free to pick up her awesome book here (not affiliated, nor sponsored).