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Violinist Mari Samuelsen's tribute LP to female composers, including Beyonce, is stellar

The classical violinist's second album, "Lys," explores her favorite female composers, such as Beyonce.

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Mari Samuelsen

Lys

Deutsche Grammophon

Three years on from Mari, Samuelsen’s still-staggering DG debut, the Norwegian violinist returns with an album rooted in the work of her favorite female composers - a role call, it should immediately be pointed out, that runs from Hildegard of Bingen to Beyonce. In between times, Clarice Jensen, Dobrinka Tabakova, Laura Mosotto and Anna Meredith are among the contributors, often with the composers lending their own musical talents to the piece as well.

The resultant soundscapes - for that is what many of them are - are breathtaking. Samuelsen’s violin remains to the fore, of course, but so exquisitely does it blend with, and react to, all that is going on around it that Lys is almost an ensemble piece. Hannah Peel’s “Signals” is especially resonant, while Anna Meredith’s characteristically energetic “Midi” closes the album with violin and electronics all but adopting one another’s characteristics as they drive towards the finale.

For some ears, of course, it is Beyonce’s “Halo” that will be the first point of call, and the most familiar point of reference. It proves immediately recognizable, but bereft of beat and production (and, of course, vocals), it takes on a whole new guise. Indeed, if your sole exposure to classical interpretations of popular music are those Once Proud Orchestra Plays The Pistols type collections, here we hear what can be done. And the slide into the next track, Lera Auerbach’s (too brief) “Adagio Sognando,” is seamless enough to dispel any lingering uncertainties.