Bernt Moen piano
Fredrik Sahlander bass
Jan Inge Nilsen drums
Release No: LOS 263-2
All compositions by Bernt Moen
Recorded February 2021 in Studio A at the University of Agder, Norway
Mixed and mastered by Roald Råsberg at Sanden Studio, Kristiansand, Norway
Produced by Bernt Moen
Supported by Sørnorsk Jazzsenter
Supported by PMRU at the University of Agder
Supported by Kristiansand Kommune
Piano tuner/tech, Åse Tveit
Front cover photo by gunhild S andersen
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Download Press Release (PDF)
In the score to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 (from 1801) there is written “Sonata quasi una fantasia.” I started thinking about that phrase upon listening to Bernt Moen Trio’s The Storm. My association was not to the fact that the popular name of Beethoven’s sonata is the Moonlight Sonata, although references to nature or natural phenomena seem to be in common. But it was the “quasi una fantasia” that struck me – like a fantasy. As almost a musical genre, the fantasia is a musical composition rooted in improvisation, a free play with musical material, and listening to Bernt Moen’s piano on this album may seem like an echo or a continuation of the fantasia in the European tradition of compositional music. Composition and improvisation as two sides of the same coin, as continuations of each other.
The piano-trio is a classic format where the interaction between the musicians is important, so as not to solely become a piano with accompaniment. Already on the “A Sense of Urgency” this interaction is heard and felt. It is a group sound, and throughout the album we hear the interaction between the musicians with different dimensions moving gradually in and out of focus, so as to highlight different perspectives on the music. Interactions are found on all musical parameters, so that on “Relentless” it is not least the rhythmic interplay that is noticeable, underlining the percussive dimension of the piano. There are also soloes in a more traditional sense, where “Relentless” features the soloistic drums with nice underlying piano, whereas “Leisurely” features both bass and piano.
“In Retrospect” sounds almost like an echo of a Romantic piano piece, and something similar could be said about “Ode,” “Floating,” and “Sakral” as well. The last three compositions mentioned are solo piano pieces, thus setting the trio pieces in a different light. This light comes to the fore on “The Storm” divided into an Introduction for piano alone, improvising in a sense like a fantasia, moving into the trio as a smooth continuation of the introduction. Here the three musicians are working together to establish musical intensities, as a long crescendo later gradually decreases. One could interpret it as a musical picture of a storm, music illustrating nature, but also as using the word storm as a foundation for musical associations and fantasies. The titles, however, seem to be if not key to how we should hear the pieces, then at least an inspiration for reflections. Thus “Passing By, Not Too Fast, Not Too Slow” in a sense does what it says, with a melodic material almost folk-music like, where the musicians move in and out of focus respectively, but with the trio sound as a nuanced focus. The different characters of the pieces, the combination of trio and solo piano, makes The Storm an album to be heard as a whole. Three musicians fantasizing in sound.
Erik Steinskog, October 2021