Håkon Skogstad – pianist, composer and arranger
Atle Sponberg – violin and concert master
The Trondheim Soloists – chamber orchestra
Label: Øra Fonogram
Producer: Rannveig Ryeng
Recorded at Dokkhuset and Øra Studio (august/september 2020) by Jo Ranheim and Kyrre Laastad
Mixed by Jo Ranheim
Mastered by Karl Klaseie
Piano technician: Arve Skjegstad
Coverdesign and photo: Kristoffer Hylland Skogheim
”Riff-driven classical music rooted in the rhythms of the Argentine tango”
On May 28, Norwegian pianist and composer Håkon Skogstad will release his new album “Visions of Tango”, together with the Trondheim Soloists – one of the leading string ensembles in Norway and former concert master of The Norwegian Radio Orchestra and sought-after violinist Atle Sponberg. In Visions of Tango, Skogstad’s original music is united with the music of Astor Piazzolla in celebration of the 100th year anniversary.
In my previous album "Two Hands to Tango", I combined my experience from tango, classical and jazz playing to establish a new pianistic performance style in nuevo tango music - greatly inspired from the playing style of the bandoneón. In "Visions of Tango", this style is further developed through my compositions and arrangements with the piano in front of the string orchestra, as well as in duo with the violin.
"We hear expressions akin to Rachmaninov’s pianism, other times the bandoneon of Piazzolla as an echo through Skogstad’s piano (…) he writes with his own unique tango dialect"
Magnus Andersson, musikkritikk.no
Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra in four movements is “riff-driven classical music rooted in the rhythms, articulation and timing of the Argentine tango”. The music dances its way through the resolute, fiery and passionate, to the joyful, expressive and sublime. The piano part is a culmination of classical virtuosity and tango expressiveness.
Histoire du Tango, originally written for flute and guitar by Astor Piazzolla, explores the evolution of tango – from the up-tempo and high-spirited milonga of the Bordello, through the nostalgic melancholia of the Café, to the Nuevo tango of the Nightclubs and finally – “The concert of today” – in harmonies inspired by Bartók and Stravinsky, but grounded the rhythm of a milonga.
Allegro Tangabile is an instrumental piece from the «tango operita» Maria de Buenos Aires by Astor Piazzolla. In my arrangement, I have tried to realize the bandoneon part in the piano - a tribute not just to the music, but also to Piazzolla - the performer.
Tres Minutos con la Realidad is a less known Piazzolla tango and a good example of his more provocative compositions – using contemporary harmonies of his day and thus pushing the limits of what a tango could be.
Adios Nonino is perhaps the most famous composition of Piazzolla. It was composed when Astor heard the news of his father’s passing. The piece typically starts with a piano cadenza, and the most influential pianists who played with Piazzolla made their own. My cadenza is in the footsteps of this tradition.
Håkon Skogstad (b.1989) is a prize-awarded diverse pianist and composer holding degrees in classical performance from Trondheim, Oslo and New York. He has performed in critically acclaimed ensembles and as a soloist throughout Norway and played concerts in the U.S., Argentina, Germany, Austria and Sweden. Skogstad released three recordings with recognized tango ensembles in Norway, as well as his debut solo album “Two Hands to Tango” – which has received numerous outstanding reviews worldwide. “…his playing is total precision and full of fiery emotion.” (Dick Metcalf, Contemporary Fusion Reviews), “Skogstad’s touch is rich and romantic […] a collection of tasty treats” (George W. Harris, jazzweekly.com), "In this way, Skogstad reformulates the use of the piano in the genre and gives it an absolutely personal characteristic, to which he adds a precise technical interpretation not without subtle moments of improvisation." (Carlos Salatino, Tiempo Argentino).
Atle Sponberg (b.1964) is a diverse and sought-after Norwegian violinist, former concert master of The Norwegian Radio Orchestra and known for his affinity for tango. Sponberg has been a soloist with several of the leading Norwegian orchestras. He has toured Norway extensively and played on festivals throughout Europe as well as in the U.S., and Australia. He plays on a violin by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini from 1752 lent by Sparebankstiftelsen.
The Trondheim Soloists (founded in 1988) is one of the best young ensembles on the international scene. With its passion and enthusiasm, the orchestra quickly established itself as the most innovative chamber orchestra in Norway - with invitations to collaborate with artists of the highest level in a wide range of genres throughout Europe, in North - and South America as well as in Asia. Their own recordings have won great acclaim, earning Spellemann-awards, Grammy nominations and glowing international reviews.