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Halvcirkel - Vida

Halvcirkel - Vida

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Halvcirkel are a Danish string trio. At the group’s core are violists Mika Persdotter and Bettina Marie Ezaki, and cellist Nicole Hogstrand. Their canon, to date, has included self-released interpretations of works by artists as diverse as Dmitij Sjostakovtij and Philip Glass, cross- discipline collaborations with names such as Henrik Lindstrand, Signe Lykke, and Hania Rani, plus a commission from Denmark’s National Gallery. Alongside composer Anders Lauge Meldgaard they reimagined the Ancient Greek poet Sappho’s Fragment 94.

Halvcirkel’s art is characterised by playing that positions “being human” over perfection. Integral to their music is the way that their instruments weave and “braid”. It’s like a conversation, a discussion, in flux. Halvcirkel’s power is the product of this synergy. Their ability to agree to disagree. Their differing viewpoints reflecting the world around us, and realising beauty when alighting on common ground.

Halvcirkel’s new album, Vida, takes its title from a small Swedish village, the location of Bettina’s summerhouse. Now signed to FatCat Records’ modern-classical imprint 130701, it’s the first to focus on the trio’s own compositions. Each track, however, pays tribute / homage to their influences, collaborators, and their journey so far.

København harnesses a hope, stirred by the smell of spring in a see-sawing, sea shanty-like viola and violin movement, whistling and wheezing. The joyful patterns of repetition recalling Terry Riley – the artist who moulded their “non-hierarchical” sound. Riley invited Halvcirkel his Californian mountain ranch. In part, this inspired the first single Ridge – it’s a cap-tip to a cafe they frequented whilst also saluting another Halvcirkel collaborator, Craig Leon, and Nommos, his interplanetary dance of the Dogon people.

Nidingen is named after a lighthouse on the west coast of Sweden, where Nicole spent her childhood summers. Good Medicine is another tribute to Riley. Playing only pizzicato, Halvcirkel describe the piece as a humorous “self-portrait”. Sænk kun dit hoved, du blomst, a reading of Danish violinist / composer / conductor Carl Nielsen’s poetic, metaphorical mediation on sleep and death, also features tightly spun short, stuttered, folk-flavoured phrases. Allting faller signifies the cycles of change we are subject to, and unable to alter. Heidur Himinn is an homage to the Icelanic winter, and improvised col lengo, with just the wooden side of the bow. Arvo Part-esque Vetraský too pictures those sensational seasonal Nordic pink skies. We Like Our Friends, all repetitive interlocking riffing, seems to translate the energy of techno and house. Like Alexander Balanescu’s arrangements of Kraftwerk, repaying the minimalist debt. Småland, while a paean to off-the-grid life, is actually a dramatic tango - worthy of Astor Piazzolla’s Zero Hour. The intimate Speech, on the other hand, audibly pauses for split seconds as fingers find their positions, in the same way that we stop to search for the right words.

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