PAUS Odes & Elegies
YouTubers may well be familiar with the name of Marcus Paus as the world’s fastest (electric) guitarist. He has reinvented himself as a successful postmodernist composer, rather successfully too, although former tendencies resurface at times as in the two hectic scherzos of his challenging Cello Sonata (2009; Aurora ACD5076).
Paus has a knack for instrumental writing, as this new release from the Italian label Sheva Contemporary confirms. The pick of the programme is Marble Songs for oboe d’amore unaccompanied (2016), inspired by the sculpture of Håkon Anton Fagerås and played with jaw-dropping virtuosity by Jan Bertelsen. Two very different sides of his compositional personality are reflected by the opening flute concertino A Portrait of Zhou (2012) – Zhou being a 10-year-old boy Paus encountered in a Chinese theatre company during work on a dance piece – and the bleak and brooding Shostakovich in memoriam, reworked from the opening movement of Paus’s First Symphony (2006). Both works are equally atmospheric but Tom Ottar Andreassen’s flute-playing is enchanting.
The two violin solos are very different in approach. Vita (2014) is strong and compact, performed robustly by Bjarne Magnus Jensen. Henning Kraggerud is rather better known as a violinist, of course, but is given less to work with in the saccharine Love’s Last Rites (2017). Sheva has produced remarkably consistent sound given each work has five different sets of performers and locations, but it is a shame that the playing time is so short.