Bjarte Eike and Barokksolistene
Early Music Ensemble
"Nothing less than mesmerising, a thoroughly integrated blend of top quality authentic performance (all played from memory), theatre, dance, story-telling and thematic deconstruction"
Early Music Review
"The whole joyous evening was a liberation, carrying us back to a time when the terms 'classical' and 'folk' hadn’t yet been invented, and music was simply music"
The Daily Telegraph
"unlocking the joy in this music"
Founded and led by Norwegian violinist Bjarte Eike in 2005, Barokksolistene is now recognised as one of the world’s most dynamic and exciting groups working in the field of historically informed performance, fusing virtuoso musicianship with flawless ensemble playing. Constantly striving to reach out to new audiences, their passion to engage with folk and experimental music, improvisation, visual arts, dance and story-telling has led them to create unique concert experiences which play to sold-out audiences worldwide.
Nowhere is this more evident than in their signature project “The Alehouse Sessions”. Curated and devised by Bjarte Eike, this project is an ever-changing and evolving look into the music of the English 17th century tavern, with the group diverting away from the traditional concert model, to create an evening that is “innately theatrical, genre bending and suffused with great musicianship” (The Strad). An album of the project was released on Rubicon Classics in 2017 and immediately made the UK top 10 classical charts. Since then Barokksolistene has toured the project throughout the UK, Germany, Scandinavia, the US and Ireland, and it continues to return season-after-season, each time with new ideas.
Their album The Image of Melancholy, one of the group’s first major recordings, was released on BIS and explores the use of melancholy in music throughout the centuries. In the same month that the album was released it featured as Recording of the Week on Danish Radio, going on to win “International Recording of the Year” at the Danish Prisen Awards.
On stage their collaborations have found them working with artists as diverse as choreographer Liam Scarlett on his ballet Vespertine and Norwegian jazz musician Jon Balke, whose Siwan project explores the links between North African Arabic, Andalusian and baroque music. Further concerts have included performances of the Malcom Bruno reconstruction of Bach’s St Markus Passion and a series of major opera productions, including a staged Messiah with Netia Jones at the Bergen International Festival, Don Giovanni at Den Nye Oper and Handel’s Alcina and for Den Norke Opera Oslo. In 2019 they took this approach further, appearing on stage as both musicians and actors as an integral part of productions of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas at Den Norske Oper and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Haugesund Teater.
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The Alehouse Sessions
The authenticity being aimed for is less that of performance style – though the calibre of playing is unimpeachable – and more that of experience...As Barokksolistene's slogan reminds us, "It's just old pop music". Performers like this are unlocking the joy in this music, and that might be the most valuable authenticity of all.
Erica Jeal, The Guardian
From punchy, percussion-rich Purcell and terpsichorean tid-bits from Playford's English Dancing Master, to lusty anonymous a cappella drinking songs and atmospheric ballads, The Alehouse Sessions is a riotous recreation of Cromwellian pub entertainment
Will Yeoman, Limelight
Innately theatrical, genre bending and suffused with great musicianship and string playing, this is a substantial and fine piece of work
Tim Woodall, The Strad
The group's tagline is "It's just old pop music." But their music is much more than that. It invigorates not only the hearing, but also the vision, inspiring a different perspective towards music among audience members. Their uniquely contemporary performance style injects new life into their baroque music and truly exemplifies the beauty of combining the new and the old
Linh Nguyen, The Daily Princetonian
Barokksolistene have been working on this project for almost 10 years, and the performances had a wonderful sense of being thoroughly lived in. The variety of tone and texture was astonishing, ranging from very naughty folk-songs...to delicate dance tunes with a modal tang, from as far afield as Shetland and Norway. The whole joyous evening was a liberation, carrying us back to a time when the terms "classical" and "folk" hadn't yet been invented, and music was simply music
Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph
I was also moved almost to tears by the group's account of the C-minor Fantasia no 7 where each passing discord was unbearably heartfelt in a way I have never experienced before
D James Ross, Early Music Review
The Image of Melancholy
These varied items are brought together in convincingly sequenced group in which the spirit of improvisation runs high (but not wild) and the differing styles meet on friendly terms, even while each track retains its own integrity and character. The string-playing throughout has the affecting physicality of folk, whether tugging at your emotions in a lament or stirring your (melancholy) feet with bite and swing in a galliard.
Lindsay Kemp, Gramophone
Every instrument is equally as impressive. From the beautiful way the strings of Barokksolistene add texture and depth to each song to how Norbakken and Zamini's percussion provide both a backbone and a solid foundation for Balke's keyboards and Turkan's kemence, all the players work together to create a sound that is both captivating and sublime.
Richard Marcus, Qantara