A Passion for John Donne Ketil Bjørnstad

Cover A Passion for John Donne

Album info

Album-Release:
2014

HRA-Release:
28.10.2014

Label: ECM

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Crossover Jazz

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)

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  • 1Introitus / A Passion for John Donne03:08
  • 2Thou Hast Made Me07:54
  • 3A Fever05:34
  • 4Death, Be Not Proud03:39
  • 5Interlude No. 102:48
  • 6The Legacy03:48
  • 7Batter My Heart, Three Personed God03:28
  • 8A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy's Day08:33
  • 9Farewell to Love07:31
  • 10Interlude No. 204:02
  • 11Since She Whom I Loved Hath Paid Her Last Debt02:22
  • 12A Valediction, Forbidden Mourning08:20
  • 13Oh, to Vex Me, Contraries Meet in One05:03
  • 14Interlude No. 302:33
  • 15There We Leave You03:50
  • Total Runtime01:12:33

Info for A Passion for John Donne

Ketil Bjørnstad’s passion for the English metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631) is a lifelong affair. His settings of Donne’s verse have led to recordings including The Shadow, Grace and the ECM album The Light. “After working with the texts of John Donne for more than twenty years, I still find new approaches to understanding what he wrote and I find music throughout. It is in the language, in the rhythm, in the silence between the sentences - a passionate quest for meaning and reconciliation. Donne's dramatic life is reflected in the texts and everywhere in them you will find the passion, melodies and sounds”. Bjørnstad wrote A passion for John Donne for the Oslo International Church Festival in the winter of 2011/2012 and the premiere performance – documented here – was at the Sofienberg Kirke in Oslo in March 2012. The Oslo Chamber Choir is sensitively directed by Håkon Daniel Nystedt, and passion is personified in the unique performance of Håkon Kornstad, who makes his ECM debut, as both tenor saxophonist and classical tenor singer.

Ketil Bjørnstad’s passion for the writings of English metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631) is a lifelong affair. The Norwegian pianist-composer’s settings of Donne’s verse have led to recordings including The Shadow, Grace and the ECM album The Light. “After working with the texts of John Donne for more than twenty years”, says Bjørnstad, “I still find new approaches to understanding what he wrote - and I find music throughout. It is in the language, in the rhythm, in the silence between the sentences – a passionate quest for meaning and reconciliation. Donne's dramatic life is reflected in the texts and everywhere in them you will find the passion, melodies and sounds”.

Ketil Bjørnstad wrote A passion for John Donne for the Oslo International Church Festival in the winter of 2011/2012 and the premiere performance, documented here, was at the Sofienberg Kirke in Oslo in March 2012. The Oslo Chamber Choir is sensitively directed by Håkon Daniel Nystedt, and passion is personified in the unique performance of Håkon Kornstad, who makes his ECM debut, as both tenor saxophonist and classical tenor singer. Kornstad makes the challenging transition from saxophone improviser to operatic vocalist seem natural in this context, and shines in both roles. Bjørnstad’s curriculum vitae has sketched a similar process in reverse: he began his career as a classical piano soloist before forming alliances with the jazz players.

In recent seasons Ketil Bjørnstad seems to have been reviewing the totality of his life’s work; his widely acclaimed trilogy of novels – To Music, The River and The Lady In The Valley – drew on his early classical experience, and both classical and jazz players have rubbed shoulders in projects such as the recent Edvard Munch tribute Sunrise, which also called upon the services of the Oslo Chamber Choir. Bjørnstad’s larger compositions have left areas open for improvised expression, as in the three “Interludes” here, with creative contributions from Kornstad and percussionist Birger Mistereggen, last heard on ECM in the company of the Trio Mediaeval (see Folk Songs), as well as from the composer himself.

Over the years, Bjørnstad has been a highly prolific creator, with more than 50 albums and 40 books to his name. The Oslo-born pianist, composer, improviser, novelist, poet and essayist, described by The Guardian as “a cultural prodigy”, has been an ECM recording artist since 1993, when his Water Stories album was issued. Other ECM recordings include The Sea, The River, The Sea II, Epigraphs, Life In Leipzig, The Light – Songs of Love and Fear, Remembrance, Night Song, Vinding’s Music – Songs From The Alder Thicket, La notte, his tribute to film director Antonioni, and the aforementioned Sunrise, a cantata on texts by Edvard Munch.

The Oslo Chamber Choir was founded in 1984 by Grete Pedersen. The choir is noted for its quality, flexibility and an ability to combine and switch between different genres, such as classical, Nordic contemporary music and folk music. Its innovative exploration of the Norwegian song tradition, in particular, has earned the choir recognition at home and abroad.

Håkon Kornstad, saxophone, flute, voice
Ketil Bjørnstad, piano
Birger Mistereggen, percussion
Oslo Chamber Choir
Håkon Daniel Nystedt, conductor


Ketil Bjørnstad
described as “a cultural prodigy” by The Guardian’s John Fordham, started out as a classical pianist, making his debut with the Oslo Philharmonic, playing Bartók. Encounters with jazz of the late 1960s, especially Miles and Coltrane, changed his priorities and he was fascinated also by the new Norwegian improvising scene that ECM was documenting. Soon he switched streams and began playing with the jazz men. Simultaneously he has maintained a career as a respected writer with many books to his credit – novels, poems, essays and more.

Ketil Bjørnstad’s recent ECM releases have included “Life In Leipzig” with Terje Rypdal, the song cycle “The Light” with Randi Stene and Lars Anders Tomter, and “Remembrance” with Tore Brunborg and Jon Christensen.

Bjørnstad’s recordings have been incorporated in the soundtracks of numerous films, including several by Jean-Luc Godard: “Notre Musique”, “The Old Place”, “Histoire(s) du Cinéma”, “Forever Mozart” and “Eloge de L’amour”.

After playing double-bass with the Oslo Philharmonic Orcherstra and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Svante Henryson (born in Stockholm in 1963) effected an about-turn in his career and joined Yngwie Malmsteen’s band as bass guitarist in 1989. This led to much session work and collaborations in the pop world, and Henryson has appeared on recordings of Stevie Wonder, Ryan Adams and Elvis Costello, amongst others.

Self-taught as cellist, he has collaborated with many jazz musicians including Jon Balke, Nils Petter Molvaer, Trygve Seim, Arve Henriksen, Marilyn Mazur and Arild Andersen. In classical contexts he often works with Anne Sofie von Otter and has directed her tours of North America, Europe and Asia. As a composer he has written music for ensembles of all sizes – from symphony orchestra to chamber groups.

Booklet for A Passion for John Donne

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