Incredible review from our Salzburg concert!

Concert with the Engegård Quartet and Nils Økland,  “Mysterious Norway”

12th March 2014, Solitär International Chamber Music Series, Mozarteum, Salzburg
Sunday, 16th March 2014

By ALICIA TUCHEL, Drehpunkt Culture, Die Salzburger Kulturzeiting im Internet

“It’s a dangerous world out there… you might just bump into some wolves…”, was how one of the works was introduced by Juliet Jopling, the only lady in the Norwegian Engegård Quartet, with a smile. And truly, we heard them. While the two violinists (Arvid Engegård and Alex Robson) conjured up the mysterious and misty atmosphere of the wilderness, the cellist (Jan Clemens Carlsen) and violist (Juliet Jopling) created wolf-howls that were surprisingly realistic and led the audience into another world – namely, the secretive North. The concert on Wednesday evening (12th March) in Universität Mozarteum´s Solitär Series really lived up to its title: ” Mysterious Norway. ”

This extraordinary quartet, named after the first violinist Arvid Engegård, led the audience into the unique world of Norwegian classical and folk music, with intimacy and mystique playing an ever recurring role.

The concert opened with Johan Svendsen´s Romance. Although not on the programme, we were assured by Juliet Jopling that no evening of Norwegian music was complete without it. Through their heartfelt playing it was soon apparent that the Engegård Quartet were fully immersed in the music, and identified completely with it´s musical language.

The evening’s special guest, Nils Økland, was then presented with his equally special instrument, the Harding fiddle. In order for the audience to hear the instrument´s unique sound in it´s natural glory and as unadorned as possible, Nils performed first a solo (accompanied only by his own rhythmic foot tapping), after a while gently rounding off while disappearing towards the door, to let the official programme begin. The main works on the programme were Grieg’s String Quartet in g minor and Johan Kvandal´s Quintet for Harding fiddle and string quartet.

This ensemble´s variety in expression was incredible. Sometimes serious, sometimes playful, from riveting and tumultuous, to soothing and longing.  The Engegård Quartet shook their audience with the intensity of their playing, but also produced sounds that were evanescent as steam before disappearing into infinity.

The evening´s second part offered many surprises and was simply announced in the programme as “Norwegian folk music.” But here too the ensemble delighted their audience with their versatile and dynamic musicianship. Whether they were sitting or standing, with or without the Harding fiddle, the audience was taken through the whole spectrum of Norwegian traditional music. Their repertoire included a Polka, a Finnish tango, and a Joik Suite from Lapland. The musicians played everything by heart, standing, playing straight to their audience. The immediacy of the dancing rhythms didn´t only get the musicians going but created a light and happy atmosphere in the audience. Their enthusiastic applause was finally rewarded with an encore, which with it´s longing, slow motive, created a wonderfully dreamy atmosphere to end off the evening. Colourful, multifaceted, rhythmic, mysterious – that´s the sound of Norway!