Review of Christmas concert with Alexander Rybak in Fredrikstad 09.12.2012.

Very good pop

Text to picture: Colors: The Artists used various colors in the lightning to make some effect.

Article published in the paper-issue of  Fredrikstad Blad 10.12.2012. Author: Guttorm O. Ihlebæk. Photo: Kent Inge OlsenEnglish translation by Laila S. English revision by Katie Anderson

Concert – dice 5

Seen from a more classical point of view, there are some conditions of  the ‘Stille Natt, Hellig Natt’ Christmas concert’s concept that seem problematic. It is firstly about the authenticity of the concept.
The artists slip in covered by an acoustic backdrop made in an artificial way, while the altar area of the Cathedral is artificially colored with blue light, and later with several other quite flashy colors.
A superb sound system is backing up the singers and the instrumentalists, and they wants us to believe ‘This is how they sing and play’. But this can only be judged without help from the sound system. As a whole, the concept could be seen as smooth, un-authentic and calculated.

These were viewpoints from the classical perspective. Is it fair to review the concert from this point of view? I doubt it. If I use the premise ‘This is pop’, then a lot was very good.
Still, it could be both useful and proper for the artists and audience to get feedback about authenticity and credibility in an artistic endeavor. I actually believe that the artists in this concept want a delivery that focuses on art. In that case, one should beware an ‘airbrushed’ appearance

 IMPRESSED: Alexander Rybak impressed with the violin play in his own composition.

 In expressing authenticity, Alexander Rybak was an important partner. He is a classically  trained violinist of high caliber . This he demonstrated by his performance of his own composition, ‘Julevariasjoner’ (Christmas variations) built over the song ‘Vi tenner våre lykter’ (We Light our Lanterns), from the TV series ‘Jul I Skomakergata’ (Christmas in Shoemaker street). Here he shows his virtuosity to the fullest. With a wide use of double grips, and other technical finesses, he carries the simple melody into several classical stylistic expressions.
As a singer, Rybak also   contributed with a good interpretation of ‘The Christmas Song’. He does not have a  big voice, but he knows to use it in a natural way, with a freedom of expression. You may call it a personal style. He was a big plus for the ensemble.

Taran Production has run this concept for 25 years. The concept has been the same. Pop artists who sing some well-known Christmas songs and put in other popular songs that have no relation to Christmas. In addition, you add some small touching stories that speak to the heart, and have a kind of christian relevance. A part of the Christmas gospel also belongs to the concept. You can’t say anything to that, with a Christmas concert in a church. That is obvious. The stories and the gospel  were provided by Rune Larsen. His way of expressing himself seems authentic and credible. Humor and warmth prevent him being intrusive, but he is a little calculating, except when he sings.

 ALEXANDER RYBAK IMPRESSED : In the concert “Stille Natt Hellige Natt”, Rybak’s violin play was the highlight.

The rest of the ensemble did, because of their competence, a very good job. If you accept electronic sound, Jon-Willy Rydningen was a master of bringing several great variations. And Olav Torget mastered the guitar with splendid chords and melody solos.
Elisabeth Andreassen and Marian Aas Hansen are experienced pop artists that manage relevant repertoire in an excellent way. But why use the ‘pop sliding notes’ in simple songs such as ‘Nå tennes tusen julelys’ and ‘Stille Natt’?
Tor Endresen was more classical in that way, with a clean interpretation of ‘O Helga Natt’ (Oh Holy Night). There were many good duets and some polyphonic singing that sounded very good. But the Anglican  ‘Å Kom nå med Lovsang’ (Adeste fideles) was sung like it was a German march. Here the feeling of style was totally astray. Said from a classical point of view!

“Stille Natt Hellige Natt”
Tor ENdresen, Marian Aas Hansen, 
Elisabeth Andreassen, Rune Larsen, 
Alexander Rybak, Olav Torget, Jon-Willy Rydningen
Place: The church
Audience: 700

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