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(43:05, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Peer Gynt's Morning 5:38 2. Ingrid 3:49 3. Mountain King and His Daughter 4:50 4. Solveig 4:03 5. Long Arabian Way 5:10 6. Anitra 5:02 7. Ese 7:47 8. Skalds' Hymn 1:54 9. In Favour 5:18 SOLO PILOT: Dmitry Lukianenko – all instruments
Prolusion. The Russian project AVIVA is the creative vehicle for composer and keyboardist Dmitry Lukianenko, and first came to prominence in 2007 with the release of "Rokus Tonalis." Since then a band version of the project named Aviva Omnibus issued "Nutcracker in Fury" in 2008, and then in 2010 the next stand-alone Aviva project appeared in the shape of "Peer Gynt in Favour". As with the other CDs named, this latest venture was handled by the French specialist label Musea Records.
Analysis. Peer Gynt is arguably one of the most renowned fictional characters with a Norwegian origin. The creation of Henrik Ibsen, this character has led its way on stage on most if not all European nations, Peer's tall tales striking a chord with audiences and actors everywhere. And while the play is known and heralded as one of the best works of playwright Ibsen, some have become more fascinated with the musical score that was made for it. Composer Edvard Grieg crafted a stunning musical backdrop for the play, one which contains themes and motifs even people without any interest in music as such will instantly recognize. And it is this orchestral suite that would appear to have inspired Lukianenko on this occasion. Musically we're dealing with a production that strays rather far off its inspiration in stylistic expression. There are symphonic themes and passages to be found, but those fond of classical symphonic music will most likely not find these enticing. Neither will fans of symphonic rock, I might add, as this CD has both feet planted well inside the borders of the progressive electronic universe. And the part of it with an outward reaching approach, where rhythms and melodies are preferred over minimalism and adventurous experimentation as such. Ranging from slow-moving, meditative themes with similarities to artists like Gandalf and Vangelis to energetic displays closer to the realms explored by Nine Inch Nails, Aviva does provide a fair deal of variation on this production. His overall approach is mostly twofold however: he either uses samples from a classical symphonic rendition of Grieg's incidental music as recurring elements beneath his electronic lead motifs, or takes a well-known motif from the selections and explores it in different variations. On some occasions he utilizes both approaches, too. All of it is very well-done, I might add, from the opening track with space-inspired sounds and textures playing upon a dampened, partially broken sample – as one might imagine listening to it relayed to the far end of the universe and picking up distortions along the way – to a track like Mountain King and His Daughter where Aviva opts to explore a well-known motif in a vast range of instrumental variations by way of his synthesizers. The concluding piece In Favour is the exception to everything else though, a fragile piano piece with a slight echo applied to the tangents crafting a strong presence of melancholy and space alongside folk music inspirations pointing back towards the Edvard Grieg orchestral score in a nice and efficient manner. As well done as Aviva's homage to Grieg is, there is one trait to this production that will put many potential fans off. If it is by choice or by limited possibilities I can't tell, but the overall sound is a synthetic one. From the noises and textures that bring forth associations of deep space to the layered digital strings liberally utilized throughout the music as such, and the individual details that form the different themes and motifs, are all of a cold and synthetic nature. And while the classical symphonic samples add a slight organic touch, it is the clinical one that is given the limelight.
Conclusion. "Peer Gynt in Favour" is a production that appears to be a tribute to the late and great Edvard Grieg first and foremost. Themes and motifs from his Peer Gynt suite are explored in a distinctly electronic setting, ranging from tranquil new age to energetic and close to industrial in scope. Cold and synthetic material, but also vital and refreshing as long as you have a soft spot for electronic music made with a clinical contemporary sound. An estimated target crowd for this CD would be those who enjoy Vangelis just as much as Nine Inch Nails, and I'd guess that those with a soft spot for artists such as Isao Tomita might find this one enticing too.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: July 3, 2011
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