The orchestral music of Jan Erik Mikalsen is lush and adventurous, just the way Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and conductor Eivind Gullberg Jensen love it. Ingerine Dahl and Ellen Ugelvik excel as soloists in these brand new concertos. The title track ‘Just for You’ is a piano concerto, thematically dealing with the iconic artist Liberace.
The story about Liberace’s (1919-1987) life and career is marked by the fact that he allegedly was gay but never came out in public. This story also structures Mikalsen’s piano concerto, whose four movements are called Introduction, Birth, Liberace & Mom and Scott – the last named was unofficially Liberace’s partner for some years. The three main movements of the concerto take parts of their musical material from three songs that recurred in Liberace’s shows – namely For you, which was first recorded by Bing Crosby in 1939, When Liberace Winks At Me and another standard, I’ll Be Seeing You, which Liberace generally used as a closing number. The rather simple, strophic melodies of these songs emerge in small gaps in Mikalsen’s orchestral texture. Ellen Ugelvik and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra commissioned the work, premiered at the 2017 Ultima festival.
Opening this piece Mikalsen lets strings imperceptibly tighten around a long, bright tone in the violin, before the first of a series of large, swelling sound-blocks in the orchestra tramples in. The exchange between these two elements – a slender, shining violin tone and a dense orchestral texture, is the key framework for the concerto. Towards the end of the fourth movement we can hear a solo violin in the orchestra citing from the opening of Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto – a courteous gesture to this landmark of modern European violin literature. The concerto was commissioned by Ingerine Dahl and Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, and premiered in 2017.
Jan Erik Mikalsen has been performed at festivals including Presencés, Huddersfield Contemporary, Ultima, Pablo Casals Festival and more. In 2017 he released the album ‘SAAN’ with three orchestral works performed by the Oslo Philharmonic, Norwegian Radio Orchestra and POING. Ingerine Dahl has been soloist with several orchestras at home and abroad, and works eagerly in repertoire from various epochs. Among her projects in 2019 is the chamber version of the violin concerto – called Solitude – in a performance arranged by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. Ellen Ugelvik has won the Norwegian Grammy (Spellemannprisen) three times. This season she is premiering two piano concertos by Kristine Tjøgersen and Therese Birkelund Ulvo with the Bergen Philharmonic and Trondheim Sinfonietta/BIT20 Ensemble. Among the highlights of Eivind Gullberg Jensens’ 2019/20 season are performances of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with the Finnish National Opera, Puccini’s Tosca at Opera Rouen, his debut with orchestras of Minnesoda, Odense and Tampere. Stavanger Symphony Orchestra is one of Scandinavia’s most successful orchestras and has in recent years had a considerable artistic development and a large audience increase. The orchestra has made a number of recordings and has been touring in Japan, USA, Germany, Russia, Finland and the Netherlands. SSO was nominated for Spellemann 2018 for Kverndokk’s Symphonic Dances and won two Hedda Prizes for The Mute in 2019.