SUNLEIF RASMUSSEN: Motion/Emotion - Chamber Music
12 March 2014
International Record Review
Ivan MoodySunleif Rasmussen, born in 1961,
is a Faroese composer, though, as the insert notes by Henrik Friis with this recording point out, he is really pan-Nordic and studied in Norway and in Copenhagen; and the fact that the performers on this recording are from Finland is also characteristic. He was also a jazz pianist before he began really developing as a composer, though that is not something I think is particularly audible in his work except, perhaps, for a particular kind of rhythmic energy. His music is evocative – sometimes of particular things such as landscape, as is the case here with Vetrarmyndir (Winter Pictures)
, but more often of particular states of mind or soul, as in Motion/Emotion
The final movement of Motion/Emotion, the most recent work here, is in fact a fine demonstration of Rasmussen’s rhythmic writing, which Friis describes, quite rightly, as ‘pulsating’. For real excitement, though, one must turn to Four Gardens, from 2003. This is a magnificently unpredictable work, full of colour, energy and atmosphere. It’s actually extremely difficult to describe Rasmussen’s music, because it simply doesn’t really sound like anything else. It’s melodious but rhythmically assertive and sometimes angular (this is perhaps most evident in the three duets from the Andalag series recorded here), enjoys repetition but is very far from being minimal, and evinces a huge interest in texture (Four Gardens, Vetrarmyndir).
Certainly the outstanding performances here, under the masterly hand of John Storgards, seem to be the result of the Lapland musicians genuinely enjoying the music. For me, the most fascinating works are Four Gardens and the earlier Vetrarmyndir for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn and piano, written in 1990, in which Rasmussen summons all his skill to create weird, haunting atmospheres; but all this music, created by a very original mind indeed, is worth listening to.