In a work specially commissioned for Hull City of Culture 2017, Arve Henriksen relates to the love-affair-on-the-waves between Scandinavia and the hitherto unheralded Yorkshire port-town on The Height Of The Reeds. Composed alongside Elvind Aarset and Jan Bang, the music accompanied a sound walk last year, to be listened to crossing the Humber; all 15,000 tickets sold out. Jez Riley French's field recordings taken from the site provide added local detail and context and the voices and orchestra of Opera North with Norwegian poetry from Nils Christian Moe-Repstad feature. Available on CD, or LP plus CD from Rune Grammophon.
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Close your eyes and let Arve and friends lead you through the reed-beds of your deepest imaginings. Hello. Henriksen (for it is he) was commissioned to create this piece for last year’s Hull: UK City of Culture festival of arts and music. There has long been an association and love going both ways between the coastal ports of Norway and Yorkshire, and it all comes to fruition in this haunting and beautiful music. Composed with longtime collaborators Elvind Aarset and Jan Bang, 2017’s sound-walk did sell out by the way -- twice -- as visitors clamoured to walk over the Humber Bridge to these delicate and nuanced sounds in their headphones; heightened by field recordings, collected in the area by Jez Riley French. There’s even some accompanying text: a nice bit of poetry from Nils Christian Moe-Repstad, read by actors and a child.
The music is perfect for headphone listening -- full of lovely textures in the sound design, slow and thoughtful instrumentation breathing out like one long sigh of contentment. It speaks to me of a oneness with its environment, describing as it does the slow shifts in light and constant flow of currents in the air and the waters of the Humber. Fortunate that, as presumably it’s what the composers intended. Trumpet is played in the signature ethereal, muted style we’re accustomed to with Henriksen, the experienced technician, here with added falsetto. The chorus of Opera North waft in with their distant harmonising, the orchestra complementing perfectly and with some particularly poised woodwind touches; Aarset and Bang take care of the sparse electronic washes, guitar and sprinkled samples. A really, really lovely listen.
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- The Height Of The Reeds by Arve Henriksen
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