Review in Gramophone of album YR

Solo debut from genre-crossing Norwegian violinist and fiddler:

«Her tone is remarkably pure, with an inner steel audible in her control of intonation over larger spans.» Gramophone / Guy Richards.

Read full review here:

Ragnhild Hemsing stands out even in the crowded market of young (she is just 23), attractive and photogenic female violinists. She impressed enormously last year in the Fossegrimen suite on Chandos’s third volume of Halvorsen (6/11). Her tone is remarkably pure, with an inner steel audible in her control of intonation over larger spans. Her playing reminds me of Ibragimova; it would be interesting to hear how she would tackle Bach.

For her debut solo disc she stays close to home, most obviously in her inclusion of four traditional Norwegian tunes, all based to varying degrees on the styles of older hardanger fiddlers, including two former teachers, Trygve Bolstad and Harald Røine. The virtuosity of Hemsing’s unaccompanied playing seems effortless, her strength and delicacy evident equally in Den vande låtten (‘The Tricky Tune’), Sparre Olsen’s delightful Six Old Village Songs from Lom (1928) and Grieg’s First Sonata. Sparre Olsen was a pupil of Hindemith and Valen, and his suite is a model of craftsmanship: try the tiny storm in the Allegretto fourth song. The Grieg – watch for the abrupt stylistic gear-change after Mehanken (‘The Gnat’)! – is given a vivid, youthful, poised account, at least a match for the competition listed below (albeit Dumay and Pires remain first choice).

The threads are drawn together in the title-track, Lasse Thoresen’s Yr (1991), a 13-minute fantasia based on folk material and the gorrlaus tuning (F-C-A-E) used in the preceding Huldrelått frå Vang. The typically ambiguous title (which can mean ‘drizzle’, ‘excitement’ or ‘teeming’) gives few hints as to the music’s remarkable character, which takes in elements of French spectralism and microtonality. In the bonus video, directed by Anja Stabell, Yr is ‘staged’ shamanistically (shawomanistically?) by the mesmeric Hemsing and extremely nimble Hallgrim Hansegård. Excellent sound.

GRAMOPHONE / Guy Rickards