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Phemius Consort

ensemble
© Allan Rasmussen/Jakob Bloch Jespersen

Phemius Consort was formed by Jakob Bloch Jespersen and Allan Rasmussen. Phemius was the name of the bard in Homer’s Odyssey who entertained the guests with song and harpplaying at the home of Odysseus in Ithaca while Odysseus was away from home on his journey back from Troy. Odysseus’ wife Penelope considers Phemius’ singing too sad, as it reminds her of her missing husband, so she asks Phemius to sing a less unhappy song. But Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, says that Phemius must be allowed to sing what is in his heart. This becomes a turning-point for the young Telemachus, who then sets off to find his father.

For bass singer Jakob Bloch Jespersen and harpsichordist Allan Rasmussen, the story of the singer and harpist Phemius, who performs the music that is in his heart, was an obvious reference when they were looking for a name for their Baroque ensemble. The present CD is Phemius Consort’s first release and for it Jakob Bloch Jespersen and Allan Rasmussen have hand-picked a team of their ablest colleagues who are particularly suited to Kingo and Early Baroque music. The soprano Else Torp has mainly worked with music from the Baroque as well as newly-written music, in among other contexts as a member of the ensembles Ars Nova Copenhagen and Theatre of Voices. The five-part string consort boasts some of southern Scandinavia’s most sought-after string-players: the first violin is played by the experienced violinist and concert master in Concerto Copenhagen, the Swede Fredrik From. The second violin is in the hands of one of Denmark’s most promising young Baroque violinists, Croatian-born Jesenka Balic Zunic. Two experienced musicians play the two viola parts, Serbian-born Rastko Roknic and Polish-born Gabriel Bania. Both live in southern Sweden, and have for some years been associated with among other ensembles Concerto Copenhagen, as has the English-born cellist Thomas Pitt. He too has been living for many years outside his native England, for example in Holland, Denmark and Finland. The Swede Fredrik Bock plays lute, theorbo and Baroque guitar on this release. He is one of Scandinavia’s busiest lutenists and is a regular member of among other ensembles the Norwegian Barokksolisterne.

The bass singer Jakob Bloch Jespersen is sought-after as a concert singer all over Europe with a repertoire ranging from the 17th to the 21st century. He appears frequently with ensembles such as Concerto Copenhagen, Nieuwe Philharmonie Utrecht, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, and Theatre of Voices.

On a daily basis, harpsichordist and organist Allan Rasmussen is the organist at Frederiksberg Church. In addition he pursues an active career as a soloist and chamber musician in many international contexts, first and foremost with the ensembles Arte dei Suonatori and Les Ambassadeurs.