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NILS ØKLAND, SIGBJØRN APELAND / GLIMMER          ECM2762

Violinist Nils Økland and keyboardist Sigbjørn Apeland, musical partners for thirty years, have long explored the interface of Norwegian traditional music and improvisation. Glimmer, an exceptionally beautiful and touching album, takes as its starting point Norwegian folk music. Apeland’s collection of pieces from local singers who have helped to keep the traditions alive forms the basis of the repertoire here, along with original compositions. Throughout, the combination of Økland’s Hardanger fiddle and Apeland’s harmonium is marvellously evocative.

Glimmer is the sixth ECM album to feature the violin and Hardanger fiddle of Nils Økland. His discography for the label ranges from the solo album Mononograph to ambient alternative rock with the Lumen Drones group, and albums with the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble (Sofienberg Variations and A Year from Easter). His 2011 release, Lysøen – Hommage à Ole Bull was a widely-acclaimed collaboration with Sigbjørn Apeland, who also made significant contributions to the music of the Nils Økland Band on Kjølvatn (2015).

Much of the music on Glimmer is related, in different ways, to the area of Western Norway where Okland and Apeland grew up, Nord-Rogaland and Sunnhordland, a region also known as Haugalandet. In addition to the pieces collected by Sigbjørn, the duo have also learned by studying older transcriptions and archive recordings, and improvising on this musical material.

The original compositions heard here include music written for the film Lysets Vanvidd (Frenzy of Light). Directed by Karl Johan Paulsen and Pål Øie, the film concerns the troubled life of Lars Hertervig, the great Norwegian landscape painter of the 19th century, whose highly original work received international recognition only posthumously. With his feeling for nature and his independent approach to interpreting it in his dreamlike paintings, Hertervig has become a figure of symbolic importance for Norwegian artists, sometimes viewed as a Van Gogh of the North. Like Økland and Apeland, Hetervig’s primary inspirations were local in origin and much of his work concerns Western Norway, where he was born, on the island of Borgøy in 1830 . A sketch by Hertervig is featured on the cover of Glimmer.

Rounding out the duo’s repertoire is “Valevåg” influenced by modernist composer Fartein Valen (1887-1952) from Stavanger, whose concepts of atonal polyphony were ahead of their time.

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Nils Økland was born in Haugesund in 1961. He attended the Rogaland Music Conservatory and the Norwegian State Academy of Music, where he studied violin with Terje Tønnesen. He also studied Hardanger fiddle with Knut Hamre and Sigbjørn Bernhoft Osa. A scholarship took him to the Budapest Academy, and in Amsterdam he studied the music of Biber with Jan Willem de Vriend. He was musical director of the Ole Bull Academy (named after the 19th-century Norwegian violinist-composer) in Voss for six years.

Sigbjørn Apeland, born in 1966, was raised in Sveio. He collaborates with musicians within a wide range of genres, especially church music, Norwegian folk music, electronics and improvised music. As an academic, Apeland has been teaching, supervising and writing within the fields of musicology, cultural studies, church music, theology and folklore studies. A member of the Musicology Research Group at the Grieg Academy, he has also extensive experience as a folk music collector, primarily focused on material from Western Norway. In addition to his ongoing collaboration with Nils Økland, Sigbjørn Apeland performs often with singer Berit Opheim, including the recent album Velsigna Er Dagen, recorded at Voss church.

Glimmer was recorded in January and March 2021 at ABC Studio, Etne, Norway, mixed at Bavaria Studio, Munich in January 2023, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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