Alfred Janson: 60 years of music
Janson’s works are often accompanied by a political message in the commentaries, on topics that more often than not remain of interest. Valse Triste (1972) deals with the (then) EEC. A jazz quintet accompanies rather absurd cuts from a debate held on Norwegian television about the European Song Contest – Janson tounge in cheek. Nasjonalsang (1988) is a tribute to Norges Statsbaner (Norwegian Rail), and Janson writes: “I have spent a large part of my life on trains. At least it feels that way. Even the lady with the refreshment cart and the fellow snoring so trustingly beside me have etched themselves into my subconscious an made me a true trainophile. Or perhaps I should say trainoholic.” He describes this piece as a portrait of a trainoholic’s inner life in a musical style reminiscent of American minimalism. Tarantella (1990) was written for the opening of the Museum for Contemporary Art in Oslo, a building with acoustic similar to that of a church.
Celebrating his 70-year birthday in 2007, Alfred Janson can look back on a colourful careere. 12 years old he made his debut on the accordion. As a pianist he emerged for the jazz scene to the classical debut in 1962. A a composer Janson is non-dogmatic and has been able to fuse elements of European avant garde, late romantic style, jazz and Norwegian folk music into a personal expression. Just now his Sonett no. 76 performed by the Norwegian Soloist Choir has been given very good reviews: Janson catches Shakespeare’s questioning of his muse exquisitely and the choral climax on “ever the same” is breathtaking. [Gramophone, February 2007]