Olav Anton Thommessen - A Glass Bead Came From Above

Thursday 1st April 1993
Olav Anton Thommessen - A Glass Bead Came From Above

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Aurora 4927

Reviewed by Dave Massey

Contemporary 'classical' music may not be everyone's cup of tea but at least Thommessen offers his listeners a reference point in the form of Grieg's famous piano concerto in A minor. If you can't remember it, it's the one that Eric Morecambe played with "all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order..." The Norwegian composer cleverly takes all the identifying elements of the Grieg piece, i.e. the falling chords and the structure of the slow middle bit and uses it to hang a tapestry of rhythms and large chords. All of the pieces on this disc give away a propensity to sparkling glassy tones full of harmonic overtones - hence, no doubt, the title. I also detected a lot of Gershwin influences in the brassy chords and use of the rhythm section. The result is a piece of eminently understandable modern music that I found very enjoyable. "From Above" is a concerto for synthesiser that holds your attention from beginning to end with a cross section of sounds ranging from the distinctive Mike Oldfield sound through a fusionesque Chick Chorea passage to some incredibly disturbing, grinding bass sounds that will soon reveal how well your speakers are anchored to the floor! Thommessen claims that he owes much of the content of "From Above" to funk and the music of the likes of George Clinton but you will do well to detect it as it takes the form of cyclic rhythms and melodies that circulate through the piece. A great disc!

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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