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Early Piano Music
With Ketil Bjørnstad's Early Piano Music, the albums Preludes Vols. 1 & 2 and Pianology from the mid-1980s are once again becoming available. These recordings have been unavailable since the mid-'90s, and have been very much in demand. Ketil Bjørnstad: "People have been asking me for many years why these recordings are not being re-released. It is very gratifying that Hubro is releasing them now, and this also serves as a reminder that even if you develop and change throughout the years, there are some central concepts which can be pursued throughout life and which are closer to you than any others. For me, these are mainly melody, harmony and structure. And the amazing possibilities inherent in improvisation." These three albums are from the middle period of Ketil Bjørnstad's career, and were recorded in 1984 and 1987. The music evokes imagery, and like so much of Bjørnstad's music, it straddles the border between classical and jazz. All the music on the records has been composed, but there is plenty of space for improvisation. In the 1970s and '80s, Ketil Bjørnstad enjoyed considerable success with several large-scale, ambitious recording projects for the Norwegian market, including Leve Patagonia, Tidevann and Aniara. His collaboration with Manfred Eicher and ECM, which would bring his music to a large, international audience, did not begin until 1993 with the album Water Stories. "My decision to produce both Preludes 1 & 2 and Pianology myself was probably due to the fact that I was in the process of developing a new artistic idiom," says Bjørnstad in the liner notes. "All of the major projects in which I had been involved had demanded a great deal of time and energy, and I began to focus on a more minimalist idiom. I rediscovered the pleasure of exploring the grand piano, and was once again reminded of the extraordinary richness of the instrument's sound, especially in a small and naked format." He finds a close interconnection between these two recordings and the music he later recorded for ECM. Several of the preludes are found in a larger format on later recordings such as The Sea (1995). The 24 compositions in total that constitute Preludes 1 & 2 were written by Bjørnstad in 1984. They were first released on two LPs by the Norwegian underground label Uniton, which is most renowned for its releases with Holy Toy, Conrad Schnitzler, Fra Lippo Lippi and Harold Budd. "I recorded them in two different studios a few months apart. The first twelve were recorded in the summer of 1984 at the newly opened Rainbow Studio, which had not yet gone digital, with sound technician Espen Dahl. I recorded the next twelve at Rosenborg Studio in February 1985, with my old friend Hans Petter Danielsen. This was our last project together after years of collaboration." Preludes 1 & 2 were later released as a CD set on Bjørnstad's own label, Hermitage, and the Japanese label September, in 1993. Pianology was first released by the Norwegian label Hete Blikk in 1987, and re-issued on Hermitage and September in 1994. "I recorded Pianology in 1987, and as far as I recall it was one of the first digital recordings made by Jan Erik Kongshaug in his already-famous Rainbow Studio. The Steinway Model C in the studio, which I really loved, enabled me to work in an even more minimalist idiom." Liner notes by Ketil Bjørnstad in the booklet insert.