Sadie Harrison’s Hällristningsområdet released on Prima Facie Records

We are delighted that Sadie Harrison’s new work Hällristningsområdet (Rock Carvings) for solo double bass has just been released on the enterprising label Prima Facie Records (Postcards from Oslo (PFCD071), performed by the Swedish virtuoso Dan Styffe.

Sadie writes: The area of Tanumshede is situated on the south western coast of Sweden. Archaeologically, it is renowned for its unique series of Bronze Age rock carvings dating from between c. 1800 to 500 BCE.

Incised into over 600 panels, the petroglyphs were originally situated along a 25 mile stretch of fjord coastline and as such there are many depictions of Hjortspring boats and seafaring activities. There are also scenes of hunting, agricultural and livestock farming and warring, with many armoured figures carrying swords, axes and shields. Whilst it is possible to interpret most carvings as images of quotidian life, the meaning of some panels is less clear. It is likely that several scenes depict ritual acts overseen by gods, often surrounded by abstract symbols - crosses, dots and ‘cups’, the significance of which is now unknown. As well as being a source of information about Scandinavian Bronze Age weapons, vehicles, tools, ships, even hairstyles, the carvings have also been the subject of debates about gender. The society depicted on the rocks seems overwhelmingly patriarchal, making the rare carvings of probable female figures particularly important. The most famous of these is known as The Grieving Woman, apparently weeping over a dead warrior from a ship. Her grief, ‘heavy as rocks’ is heard in the opening movement of the piece, echoing through the remaining movements and giving the work its dark, melancholy character. The Woman returns in the final movement as a ghost, her footsteps coming closer and closer as her ‘lover’s’ ship is rebuilt over and over again. Movement III is gentler in tone, a song for the Woman and her lover - depicted as a couple rolling a giant sun surrounded by farm animals. Movement II represents the enigmatic Juggler or Calendar Man who holds 29 spheres in his hand - perhaps juggling the fate of The Grieving Woman. Hällristningsområdet was written at the request of bassist Dan Styffe, resident in Norway but born in Sweden. (© SH)

I Den sörjande kvinnan: The Grieving Woman
II Tjugonio bollar: identifiera juggler tid: 29 Balls: identifying the juggler of time
III Älskande rullande solen: Lovers rolling the sun
IV Diskursiva relationer mellan skepp och fotsulor: Discursive relationship between ships and footsoles

The disc also features music by Simon Garcia, John Alexander, Teppo Hauta-aho, Terje Viken, Marcus Paus, Bernard Salles, Steve Plews and the baroque composer Marin Marais.

(Born in Sweden, Dan Styffe has based most of his professional life in Norway. He studied with Göran Nyberg, Knut Guettler and Gary Karr; he served one year as Gary Karr ́s Assistant. His first professional job was Principal Bass in The Norwegian Opera Orchestra, followed by Principal Bass in The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. He is now Co-Principal in The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Styffe is also Professor of double bass at The Norwegian Academy of Music and at Barratt Due ́s Institute of Music, Oslo. He has a successful career as soloist / chamber musician and this is his 7th solo CD. He appears regularly at international festivals and Conventions and often serves on juries at international solo competitions. He plays a Gasparo da Saló bass owned by the foundation Dextra Musica/Sparebankstiftelsen DNB. Dextra Musica has invested in fine old Italian string instruments and lends them to talented Norwegian musicians.)

(26 Jul 2017)

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