With the release of Ophelia’s Arrival/Minotauros, many listeners will gain access to an unfamiliar aspect of the career of the highly creative Ketil Bjørnstad. Bjørnstad’s electronic ballet music from the 1980s is presented here in a collected and remastered version.
In 1986 the Norwegian theatre director Bentein Baardson asked Bjørnstad to compose music for Hamlet, which was Baardson’s inaugural production as the director of Rogaland Theatre. This music formed the foundation for what would become the ballet Ophelia’s Arrival. The ballet was never performed, but the music constituted part of the triple album Three Ballets, released by Cicada Records in 1987 along with Minotauros and Pianology (the last recently re-released on the Hubro label under the title Early Piano Music).
Minotauros was a major production by the Mexican ballet dancer and choreographer Alejandro Meza for the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in 1987. “He had heard the music I had composed for Aniara earlier in the 1980s, and wanted an electronic soundscape that would foster direct interaction with the musicians,” writes Bjørnstad. Most of the music was recorded on tape, but the Norwegian jazz-rock group Lava was in the orchestra pit, playing live along with the electronic recording. Later both of these projects were mixed with the idea of a releasing a purely electronic recording.
Ophelia’s Arrival/Minotauros gives us an intriguing view of a fascinating period in recent Norwegian music history, and not least an encounter with Bjørnstad’s melodious music in a very different context than usual.