Home > Reviews > Best Scores of 2016 – Scandinavia

Best Scores of 2016 – Scandinavia

The fourth installment in my annual series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world concentrates on music from films from Scandinavia, one of the world’s most impressive sources of excellent scores. One score from Finland, one score from Sweden, and a veritable plethora of scores from Norway are showcased this year.

ALL THE BEAUTY [ALT DET VAKRE] – Henrik Skram

altdetvakreAll the Beauty is a Norwegian romantic drama film written and directed by Aasne Vaa Greibrokk. Ten years after the breakup of their marriage, Sarah arrives at her ex-husband David’s summer cabin, where he’s writing a play. David asks Sarah to contribute, and initially she is eager, until she realizes that the play is about their years together; as time goes on, old wounds are re-opened and the estranged pair are forced to come to terms with their relationship, and their complicated love for each other. The film, which stars, Ann Elenora Jørgensen, Magnus Krepper, Kristoffer Joner and Andrea Bræin Hovig, was a major critical success in Nordic countries in 2016.

The score for All the Beauty is by Norwegian composer Henrik Skram and, unlike his other major 2016 effort Snøfall, is much more serious and classical in nature. Much of the score is written for a string quartet and features spiky, slightly aggressive performances which occasionally give way to lonely-sounding violin solos. The opening cue, “Åpning,” and subsequent tracks like “Servitør” and “Akt 2,” adopt this style wholeheartedly, and occasionally remind me of the writing in Skram’s excellent string-based documentary score Ballet Boys, which was nominated for an IFMCA Award in 2014.

The musical color palette changes in “Toget,” during which Skram introduces some contemporary, pulsating synth textures and a glassy, soothing piano motif. Skram ditches everything but the piano in the contemplative and moody “David,” and brings everything together in the 7-minute extended cue “Rulletekst Lang,” which sways and beguiles with its lovely piano performance, soothing string textures, and gently romantic melodic core. The final cue, “Alt det Vakre,” reprises the main piano theme with precision and clarity, and ends the score with a sense of melancholic resignation; the two lovers, despite their clear affections for each other, are destined never to be together.

This is a lovely, if brief, work that again showcases just how much talent Henrik Skram has; his ability to switch between genres, while remaining fully immersed in his highly classical personal style, is impressive. Unfortunately the score for All the Beauty is not available for commercial purchase at this time – just a promo provided by Skram for promotional and award consideration – but selections from the score can be streamed via his Soundcloud page at https://soundcloud.com/henrik-skram/alt-det-vakre.

Track Listing: 1. Åpning (2:02), 2. Servitør (0:59), 3. Akt 2 (0:44), 4. Toget (4:25), 5. David (1:43), 6. Rulletekst Lang (7:43), 7. Alt det Vakre (2:53). Promo, 20 minutes 43 seconds.

 

DYRENE I HAKKEBAKKESKOGEN – Gaute Storaas

dyreneihakkebakkeskogenDyrene i Hakkebakkeskogen – loosely translated as “In the Forest of Huckybucky” – is a children’s stop motion animated film from Norway, based on a popular book written in 1953 by Thorbjørn Egner. Basically, the story is a parable about ‘how to get along with others,’ and tells the story of a field mouse and a hedgehog who come together with all their forest friends and pass laws forbidding the animals from eating each other. For a time, all is well, at least until a hungry fox arrives on the scene looking for his next meal. The film is directed by animation specialist Rasmus Sivertsen, who also directed the 2015 Pinchcliffe film Solan og Ludvig: Herfra til Flåklypa, and has a lovely score by composer Gaute Storaas.

The commercial soundtrack album for Dyrene i Hakkebakkeskogen features a number of songs which were originally written by author Egner for a story LP that was released at the same time as his book, and which have been adapted and arranged for this film by Storaas and the Norwegian band Katzenjammer, but the album does not contain any of Storaas’s whimsical, sylvan orchestral score, which is quite charming in a sort of Scandinavian John Powell-esque way. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the film, Storaas was forced to write his music to fit around Egner’s songs, which rendered his score quite choppy and bitty: the 43 tracks on this promo album run for just over half an hour, but the longest cue is just 105 seconds. As such, there is little time for Storaas to develop anything much of a recurring thematic presence.

Nevertheless, buried deep within the music is a lovely score trying to emerge. Storaas occasionally uses hints and flavors of Egner’s original themes, but the vast majority of it is brand new, and several cues stand out. The “Ouverture” is light and fanciful, with especially pleasant woodwind writing and prancing, sunny, dancing strings which carry over into later cues like “Spasertur,” “Der Lurte Vi Styggen,” “Nye Tider,” the lovely “Leteaksjon,” and the tender “Brumlemann Fri,” which are some of the only cues where Storaas is able to have an extended period of music to himself.

Some brief, scampering action music enlivens the proceedings through cues like “Hva Har Du I Kurven,” “Kakebytte, Part 1,” “Revechase,” and the last few moments of the unexpectedly powerful “Stor Fare,” and in these tracks Storaas has some fun with his orchestrations, including rattling xylophones, country guitars, and even a theremin to give the music some variety. Elsewhere, “Bamsefar Tar Saken,” “Nervøs Morten,” and “Her Må En Rev Til” have the classic sound of ‘sneaky’ caper music, all pizzicato and abridged clarinet phrases, and even the merest hint of Bernard Herrmann in the muted brass!

It’s true that some may find the music in Dyrene i Hakkebakkeskogen to be somewhat twee, a little old fashioned and mickey mousey, lacking in depth, and too child-like for their tastes, and these are all valid criticisms, but you have to remember your audience: Storaas is writing for very young children and they respond more easily to direct and unambiguous emotions . One could also say that Storaas was intentionally channeling the classic cartoon music of people like Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley, which is a challenge in itself due to Stalling’s highly technical, complicated key changes, and switches in tempo. As such, under those circumstances, and considering the limitations imposed on him by the film, what Storaas has achieved here is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, the score for Dyrene i Hakkebakkeskogen is not available for commercial purchase at this time – just a promo provided by Storaas for award consideration.

Track Listing: 1. Ouverture (0:26), 2. Spasertur (1:02), 3. Skumleskog (0:22), 4. Hva Har Du I Kurven (1:06), 5. Dobbeltpeprede (0:40), 6. Jeg Så Reven (0:12), 7. Bakerguttens Plan (0:17), 8. Kakebytte , Part 1 (0:39), 9. Kakekunde (0:21), 10. Revenys (0:19), 11. Kakebytte, Part 2 (0:33), 12. Der Lurte Vi Styggen (0:38), 13. Revechase (0:52), 14. I Ekornjensens Kjeller (1:07), 15. Stiv Kuling (0:12), 16. Bestemor Tilvørs (0:27), 17. Mortens Lov [dialogue] (0:47), 18. Sulten Gjest (0:45), 19. Hva Skriver Du På (0:31), 20. Bamsefar Tar Saken (1:13), 21. Hakkebakke Samling I Skogen (0:25), 22. Nervøs Morten (0:25), 23. Avstemning (1:30), 24. Nye Tider (0:34), 25. Utsultet Mikkel (1:01), 26. Sulten Brumlemann (1:30), 27. Bjørnejakt (0:34), 28. Angst (1:12), 29. Leteaksjon (1:45), 30. Til Mikkel (0:28), 31. Her Må En Rev Til (1:14), 32. Gården (0:17), 32. Redningsplan, Part 1 (0:38), 33. Redningsplan, Part 2 (1:20), 34. Flueproblemer (0:34), 35. Hannibal Våkner (0:19), 36. Brumlemann Funnet (1:10), 37. Stor Fare (1:22), 38. Mikkel Til Unnsetning (1:03), 39. Brumlemann Fri (1:20), 40. Reven Jages (0:21), 41. Nå Kan Du Stå Der (0:27), 42. Salatbønder (0:41), 43. Dagens Helt (0:36). Promo, 33 mintutes 34 seconds.

 

THE LAST KING [BIRKEBEINERNE] – Gaute Storaas

birkebeinerneThe Last King is a Norwegian historical action drama which portrays true events which took place in that country in the year 1206. The country is being ravaged by a civil war, and King Håkon III has been murdered. Håkon’s illegitimate infant son, Håkon Håkonsson, is the leading pretender to the throne, but is being hunted by those who want to change the regnal line of succession, and elevate another family to power. To protect the infant heir two birkebeinerne – warriors still loyal to Håkon, so named because they made snow shoes out of birch bark – take the child from Lillehammer to safety in Trondheim, a long and perilous journey through treacherous snowy mountains and freezing forests. The film is directed by Nils Gaup, stars Jakob Oftebro and Game of Thrones’s Kristofer Hivju as the two warriors, and has an outstanding score by Norwegian composer Gaute Storaas.

The score opens with a wonderful Norwegian-language song, “Bifröst,” performed by vocalist Helene Bøksle as a soaring, dramatic, folk-inflected epic that has a sense of wide open space, and sets up the score to come. Thereafter, Storaas’s music takes center stage; it’s a combination of traditional-sounding folk melodies and ancient Viking instruments, blended with the power of the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra. Thematically, the score is anchored around the one first heard in “Bifröst,” which acts as an all-encompassing heroic anthem for the birkebeinerne and their noble quest, and which recurs throughout the score, receiving several lavish statements.

As one might expect, much of the score is dramatic and action-oriented, with strong cello ostinatos overlaid by various exotic textures. Lord of the Rings fans will recognize the hardanger fiddle in cues like “Byrjanligr,” “Ylva,” and the mournful, reflective “Noregskonungr,” while the twanging langeleik dulcimer combines with breathy vocals and urgent, swirling orchestral patterns in cues such as “Floginn Fyrur,” “Flóttamaðr,” the sensational “Baglar Komandi,” and the frantic “Sleðrenna”.

Some of the orchestral writing is quite superb. Storaas makes great use of the brass section especially, passing complicated rhythms around from horns to trombones and back to drive the action forward, while some of the percussion writing has the same kind of intensity that Howard Shore brought to Middle Earth. The deep, powerful “Stríð,” the ominous “Biskupin,” and the thunderous pair “Brjótast” and “Sverfa Til Stáls” are perfect examples of Storaas’s tremendous use of the orchestra. Also, in addition to the opening song, several other cues feature vocal performances by Bøksle, including the majestic “Birkibeinar Titull,” the more soothing and intimate “Ylva,” the gentle “Konungborinn,” “Slaglengja,” the tragically emotional “Sorgsamr,” “Eftirmæli Stendr,” and the conclusive “Kon Ungr.”

If you have never heard of Gaute Storaas before, The Last King would be the perfect place to start familiarizing yourself with his music. The scope and scale of the score matches anything the Hollywood mainstream has to offer in the action-adventure stakes, while the inclusion of the traditional Nordic instruments, coupled with Helene Bøksle’s vocals, gives it more than enough of an ethnic edge to make it tonally interesting. The score is available on CD from the Norwegian record label Lydmuren, and as a digital download from most reputable online retailers.

Track Listing: 1. Bifröst (performed by Helene Bøksle) (3:43), 2. Byrjanligr (2:40), 3. Birkibeinar Titull (1:27), 4. Floginn Fyrur (2:43), 5. Ylva (2:30), 6. Flóttamaðr (2:34), 7. Stríð (3:12), 8. Biskupin (2:01), 9. Konungborinn (4:10), 10. Baglar Komandi (2:30), 11. Slaglengja (1:28), 12. Sorgsamr (2:25), 13. Djarfleikr Mey (3:23), 14. Kristin (1:30), 15. Noregskonungr (2:49), 16. Sleðrenna (1:22), 17. Brjótast (1:07), 18. Sverfa Til Stáls (1:38), 19. Eftirmæli Stendr (2:00), 20. Svik (4:08), 21. Fríðr (2:57), 22. Kon Ungr (1:40). Lydmuren Records, 54 minutes 07 seconds.

 

MAGNUS – Uno Helmersson

magnusMagnus is a sports documentary with a difference. Directed by Benjamin Ree over a period of ten years between 2004 and 2014, the film looks at the life of 25-year old Norwegian chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, charting his rise to fame from his humble beginnings as a child prodigy when he was dubbed the Mozart of chess, through to his nail-biting showdowns with the greatest chess champions, which recently included successfully defending his world title against Russian contender Sergey Karjakin. The documentary won the Ray of Sunshine Award at the Norwegian International Film Festival.

The score for Magnus is by 40-year-old Swedish composer Uno Helmersson, who graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm in 2007, and has slowly been making a name for himself scoring film and TV projects across Scandinavia since then. In describing his score for Magnus, Helmersson says he “focused on accentuating the growth of the child prodigy with clever instrumentation choices that grow more complex together with the protagonist” and that he tried to manifest the core of chess with piano and strings, trying to keep the score as simple and plain as possible. “I wanted to bring forth the strive of Magnus and his development as a character, so I had this idea of letting the instrumentation mirror Magnus’s journey from child prodigy to chess champion”.

It’s a clever approach, and one that works very well. The opening cue, “Into Timeline,” is in many ways a distillation of the enitre score – it opens with a string quartet playing a highly rhythmic texture, which is gradually joined by other musicians one by one until the motif is performed by a full string orchestra with piano. Many subsequent cues follow this technique, with tracks such as “To India,” “Game 5,” the superb “The Miracle,” and the euphoric “The Chess Champion” leaving a very positive impression. At times, Helmersson’s writing reminds me of Alexandre Desplat, at others Thomas Newman, which can only be a good thing.

Helmersson does engage in some other musical ideas to keep the score fresh. “The Final” has some tortured-sounding string harmonics and groaning synth drones offset by flashes of classical beauty, underlining the pressure felt by chess players at the highest level; this idea expands into subsequent cues like “Game 1” and “Until Third Game” where pulsing synth rhythms are introduced to add to the sense of drama and the weight of expectation. “Playing Chess,” “Kasparov,” and “Candidates Tournament” are built around expressive, idyllic-sounding piano lines, often augmented by magical chimes or a warm string wash. “Bullied” sees the piano writing given a sort of dense, underwater sound, manipulated in post-production, which is effective at conveying that sort of childhood trauma.

The soundtrack album, which is available via Movie Score Media, also features an original song, “Secret Room,” performed by British/Norwegian singer-songwriter Katharina Nuttall. Magnus is yet another score which highlights the depth of film music talent that can be found outside the Hollywood mainstream if only you’re willing to look. It’s an excellent introduction to Uno Helmersson’s music – which I had never heard prior to this score – and comes with a recommendation for anyone who enjoys exploring outside the usual suspects. Norwegian documentaries about chess prodigies – who knew?

Track Listing: 1. Secret Room (performed by Katharina Nuttall) (4:39), 2. Into Timelapse (2:09), 3. The Final (2:25), 4. Playing Chess (1:57), 5. The Flagbook (3:18), 6. Bullied (1:25), 7. Kasparov (2:31), 8. Game (1:52), 9. To India (1:56), 10. Until Third Game (2:03), 11. Family (2:01), 12. Candidates Tournament (1:17), 13. Magnus Late (2:05), 14. Game 5 (2:27), 15. The Miracle (2:05), 16. Game 6 to 10 (2:18), 17. The Chess Champion (1:41), 18. Out of Timelapse (0:41). Moviescore Media MMS-16020, 38 minutes 59 seconds.

 

A MAN CALLED OVE [EN MAN SOM HETER OVE] – Gaute Storaas

amancalledoveA Man Called Ove is a Swedish comedy-drama film directed by Hannes Holm, based on Fredrik Backman’s international best-selling novel. It stars Rolf Lassgård as the eponymous Ove, the quintessential ‘angry old man next door’ who, since retiring, spends most of his days enforcing block association rules and visiting his wife’s grave. After a boisterous young Persian family moves in next door and accidentally flattens Ove’s mailbox, an unlikely friendship forms, as the family’s warmth and love of life gradually begins to thaw Ove’s grumpy exterior. The film has been a massive success in Sweden, winning the European Film Award for Best European Comedy, and it is that country’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards

The score for A Man Called Ove is by Norwegian composer Gaute Storaas who, with this film and his other major 2016 scores, Birkebeinerne and Dyrene i Hakkebakkeskogen, has set himself in the driving seat to be one of Scandinavia’s premier film composers. Storaas’s score is broadly appealing, showcasing a tango-like main theme, as well as embracing some more emotional, intimate music for the various relationships between Ove, his wife’s memory, and the immigrant family who change his life.

The main theme is a strident, vaguely comedic little march that first appears in the opening cue “Vaktmästaren,” and crops up in various guises throughout the score, in “Första Försöket,” “Vaktmästarna,” and “Hangman,” the latter of which actually uses an accordion to evoke the tango style in a very Argentine way. The more ambient, intimate textures for strings and piano feature in “Bokhyllor,” the more melancholy “Renoveringen,” the warmly affecting “Branden,” the very pretty “Invitationen,” and “Lärarinnan,” which makes lovely use of an increased harp presence. “Kyssen” and “Barnvakten” feature some of the score’s most emotional writing, anchored by a truly gorgeous solo violin element, prior to the downbeat but undeniably effective finale in “Det Stora Hjärtat”.

A Man Called Ove is not a score which will overwhelm listeners with its overpowering emotional beauty; instead, it’s a quiet, thoughtful little score that embraces the Scandinavian form of musical introspection that has become de rigeur in that region’s serious cinema over the last few years. It also further emphasizes the talent of Gaute Storaas; the fact that he can seamlessly move from this score to Birkebeinerne to Dyrene i Hakkebakkeskogen in the same year is impressive indeed, and highlights his versatility. The score is available on CD from the Swedish record label Music Super Circus, and as a digital download from Amazon, iTunes, and elsewhere, including in a version with translated English track titles.

Track Listing: 1. Vaktmästaren (2:20), 2. Första Försöket (1:20), 3. Bokhyllor (1:34), 4. Renoveringen (1:19), 5. Branden (2:40), 6. Kvinnan På Tåget (1:40), 7. Invitationen (1:44), 8. Kyssen (1:21), 9. Barnvakten (1:49), 10. Vaktmästarna (1:53), 11. Sjukhuset (2:53), 12. Rehabiliteringen (1:55), 13. Volvo vs. Saab (2:34), 14. Lärarinnan (1:44), 15. Hjärtattacken (1:34), 16. Barndopet (1:59), 17. Det Stora Hjärtat (2:50). Music Super Circus, 32 minutes 19 seconds.

 

RÖLLI AND THE SECRET OF ALL TIME [RÖLLI JA KAIKKIEN AIKOJEN SALAISUUS] – Panu Aaltio

rolliandthesecretofalltimeRölli and the Secret of All Time is a children’s adventure film from Finland, directed by Taavi Vartia. The story involves a little girl named Juniper and her grandfather Rölli, two ‘röllis’ – elf-like creatures from Finnish folklore – who, having been given details of far away places by their friend Malcolm the Maggot, decide to leave their village and find out where they originally came from. The subsequent adventure sees Rölli and Juniper traveling over snowcapped mountains, through hot deserts, and past an “endless sea of floating rocks” towards “the beginnings of all time.” The film stars Allu Tuppurainen, a famous Finnish comedy actor, and young Linnéa Röhr, and has a wonderful score by composer Panu Aaltio.

Aaltio’s music is absolutely superb: theme filled, adventurous, magical, emotional, beautifully arranged for a full orchestra and choir, and featuring a rousing central melody that accompanies Juniper and Rölli throughout their journey. There are some absolutely delightful textures for strings and woodwinds, especially during the warm and inviting opening cue “Dreaming of an Adventure,” while other cues adapt the central thematic ideas for a variety of different orchestrations – guitars and castanets in “Desert Road Trip,” elegant swooping woodwinds and Morricone-esque western orchestrations in “An Eagle Circles” and “Mauno the Worm,” or the South American pan pipe flavors of “Dinosaur Hypnosis”.

The rousing adventure fanfare for Rölli first appears in the title cue, “Rölli and the Secret of All Time,” a celebration of heroic brass and sweeping orchestra, which continues on to form the core of subsequent cues such as the stirring “The Beginning of All Time,” the finale of the aforementioned “An Eagle Circles,” the delicate and angelic “Mystery Mountain,” and the bold and courageous “Sailing Across the Sea”. Similarly, the action music, when it comes, is bold and striking. It is often underpinned by a propulsive string ostinato and accompanied by stirring choral accents, giving cues like the optimistic and energetic “Beyond the Horizon,” the lively and expressive “Catapult Jump,” the rambunctious second half of “Mystery Mountain,” and “Meeting the Dinosaur” a sense of fun and child-like playfulness.

The three conclusive cues – “Friendship,” “Homecoming,” and “The Whole Story” – present several variations of Rölli’s theme, and surround it with twinkling and magical orchestrations and a set of wholesome-sounding strings that gradually rise to a superb finish, complete with soaring chorus. Unfortunately the score for Rölli and the Secret of All Time is not available for commercial purchase at this time – just a promo provided by Aaltio for promotional and award consideration – but a decent selection from the score can be streamed via his website at http://www.panuaaltio.com/rolli-and-the-secret-of-all-time/. This score will appeal to anyone who enjoys rousing adventure music, and considering this alongside his work on the superb documentary feature Järven Tarina from earlier in the season, Panu Aaltio has had one heck of a year.

Track Listing: 1. Dreaming of an Adventure (1:37), 2. Beyond the Horizon (1:32), 3. Rölli and the Secret of All Time (1:49), 4. Desert Road Trip (1:56), 5. Catapult Jump (1:23), 6. The Beginning of All Time (4:28), 7. An Eagle Circles (2:22), 8. Mystery Mountain (2:03), 9. Visions (2:23), 10. Mountain Climbing (1:31), 11. Meeting the Dinosaur (2:09), 12. Floating Rocks (0:45), 13. Sailing Across the Sea (1:50), 14. Dinosaur Hypnosis (2:29), 15. Mauno the Worm (2:30), 16. Friendship (1:24), 17. Homecoming (1:49), 18. The Whole Story (2:42). Promo, 36 minutes 47 seconds.

 

SNOWFALL [SNØFALL] – Henrik Skram

snofallEvery year, on the main Norwegian TV network NRK, there is a traditional show called the ‘julekalender’ (Christmas calendar), a drama series aimed at children, with one episode broadcast each day of December until Christmas Eve. The julekalender for 2016 is Snøfall, or Snowfall, and is a charming fairytale about a 9-year-old girl named Selma. Selma is an orphan who lives with her strict stepmother Ruth; however, one day while playing in the park, a magical bridge appears which transports Selma to the town of Snøfall, where she gets to meet the real Santa Claus. It’s a charming, whimsical, magical wintry tale for kids, and the music that accompanies it, by IFMCA nominated Norwegian composer Henrik Skram, is just wonderful.

Skram’s music is a perfect distillation of all the great Christmassy children’s orchestral scores you can think of, a lyrical and theme-filled wonder that owes a debt of musical gratitude to everyone from John Williams, to James Horner, and Bruce Broughton. It’s performed by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra conducted by Matt Dunkley, and has a light, charming, effortlessly appealing sound that captures the sense of wonderment felt by young Selma on her journeys to visit Santa. Skram uses the entire orchestra throughout the score, but often makes special use of familiar ‘wintry’ orchestrations, including light metallic chimes, fluttery woodwinds, and high, shimmering strings.

Several cues stand out. “Veien Til Snøfall” has a sense of adventure and anticipation that is palpable, and rises to several lovely crescendos. “Hagen” has a light, tinkling core for pianos and pizzicato strings that conveys movement and wide-eyed exploration. “Over Vidda” is darker and more dramatic, with an undulating brass melody and wide, rich woodwind accents that carry over into subsequent cues like “Mysteriet i Snøfall” and “Mørke”. The theme for “Selma” herself is just beautiful, a tender and innocent piano melody accompanied by delicate strings, which is re-orchestrated for sweet woodwinds in the equally lovely “Selma Lengter Hjem,” and for a fuller orchestra in the emotional “Fra Snøfall Til Vu”.

“Trixterjakt,” “Torget,” and “Brevfuglene Kommer” are fun, lively action cues built around a churning cello ostinato, over which Skram layers dancing woodwinds, occasionally bold brass phrases, meandering string lines, and a multitude of chimes and bells. Similarly, “Winter” and “Ny Dag i Snøfall” are bright comedy cues full of sprightly brass rhythms and a touch of Nordic folk music. “Den Siste Julekula” is as gentle as a lullaby, while the conclusive “Julaften” has a wonderful sense of pageantry and celebration, as well as a lush final statement of Selma’s theme.

In addition to the score, the album contains four original Norwegian-language songs co-written by Skram along with lyricists Hanne Hagerup, Hilde Hagerup, and Klaus Hagerup. Two of them, “God Morgen” and “Julius’ Glade Sang,” are performed by actor Trond Høvik and are jolly, blustery, and a little bit comedic. However the other two, “Sov i Ro” and the more contemporary “Selmas Sang,” are performed by the composer’s sister Eva Weel Skram, and are superb. In “Sov i Ro” especially, Eva’s fragile, almost crystalline voice sounds like it might crack under the weight of the melody, while Henrik’s feather-light instrumental accompaniment dances around her.

The whole thing is simply lovely, one of the most impressive seasonal scores I have heard in quite some time. Some may find the music to be a little too on the playful side, but personally I found Skram’s writing to be wholly appropriate in terms of tone and approach, while still leaving room to employ some bold and impressive orchestral textures. The score is available as an import CD from the Norwegian record label Grappa, as well as from all the usual digital download outlets.

Track Listing: 1. Vignett (0:47), 2. Her Bor Jeg (0:50), 3. Veien Til Snøfall (1:50), 4. Hagen (3:10), 5. Over Vidda (2:00), 6. Selma (2:18), 7. Mysteriet i Snøfall (2:23), 8. Mørke (2:27), 9. Trixterjakt (2:44), 10. God Morgen (performed by Trond Høvik) (1:55), 11. Pipehopp (1:37), 12. Winter (2:01), 13. Selma Lengter Hjem (2:10), 14. Sov i Ro (performed by Eva Weel Skram) (3:03), 15. Selma og Ruth (1:27), 16. Julebøll (1:43), 17. Fra Snøfall Til Vu (3:24), 18. Julius’ Glade Sang (performed by Trond Høvik) (1:26), 19. Torget (2:06), 20. Winter Er Ikke Lærling (2:08), 21. Ny Dag i Snøfall (1:30), 22. Den Siste Julekula (3:47), 23. Brevfuglene Kommer (1:23), 24. Julaften (4:36), 25. Selmas Sang (performed by Eva & the Heartmaker) (3.28). Grappa Music/NRK Super 61197, 56 minutes 28 seconds.

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  1. January 7, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Thank you so much for the recommendation of “The Last King”! I listened to the first track on iTunes and instantly bought it. Without you, I possibly would have never heard of this score.

  2. Scott W Weber
    July 14, 2017 at 5:56 am

    As always, your posts send me scurrying looking for music new to me…one quick question…you say Snowfall is available at the usual digital outlets…but I can’t seem to find it anywhere…which ones were you referring to? Thanks again…and keep up the good work!

  1. February 3, 2017 at 10:01 am

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