Jacob Artved: Metamorphosis 

In adding a jazz feel and sounds to classical staples the Artved brothers produce some lovely if not always congruous music

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The Artved brothers – Jacob on guitars and Max on oboe – have attempted here to fuse jazz and classical music. Taking music by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Debussy and others they have produced a hybrid leaning heavily towards jazz but retaining the essential melodies and harmonies of the composers.

Max says in his sleeve note that “jazz and classical music are two genres with obvious differences but whose harmonic and tonal languages often overlap”. This, he claims, offers inspiration to listeners and musicians in both worlds. True up to a point but they do also clash sometimes, as demonstrated on this release.

Arabian Dance from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is least successful. The opening oboe phrase by Max is clear and bright enough but the splash of drums from Cornelia that follows jars somewhat. Balcony Ballad has neat guitar solo work from Jacob although it doesn’t mix too well with the other instruments and what they are playing. Pure Prokofiev.

The three selections of music by Ravel work best of all but even here there are jarring notes. It doesn’t help that Jacob keeps switching from acoustic to electric guitar, the former sounding good in this context but the latter not so.

Menuet is mainly an uptempo swing session for guitar, bass and drums with occasional oboe and string interjections. Forlane swings along too, although what Ravel would have made of it I cannot begin to guess. He would probably have retreated to a dark room and played a recording of his Bolero and murmured darkly about the right and wrong ways to mix genres.

To be clear, as the politicians say, it doesn’t really work overall. It is lovely music, and it has its moments – Jacob’s tasty acoustic guitar solos for one and the well-played oboe segments. Somehow though, roving bass lines and chirpy drums are out of place here. Like the curate’s egg this music is good in parts. Not suitable for hard-core jazzers though.

Discography
Arabian Dance; Balcony Ballad; Poisson D’Or; Prelude; Menuet; Forlane; Francis’ Theme; Doctor Gradus (49.52)
Jacob Artved (g, elg); Max Artved (o); Ben Besiakov (p); Felix Moseholm (b); Cornelia Nilsson (d); Eliel Lazo (pc); Christine Schneider (vn); Stine Hasburk Brandt (vla); Joel Laakso (clo). Copenhagen, 27 & 28 March 2021.
Stunt STUCD 21122