After having released a trilogy of records in a trio format, the Gjermund Larsen Trio have expanded their palette with their fourth album, Salmeklang. Gjermund has forged a new path as a composer, and the Swedish folk music group Nordic, who are featured as guest artists, contribute their own distinctive sound to the music. The album also marks the tenth anniversary of the Gjermund Larsen Trio.
Gjermund Larsen still writes most of his music for the trio, and his sense of melody and sensitivity to atmosphere is outstanding. The music is lovely and intimate. It is experienced as personal and as being directed unobtrusively but clearly towards the listener. “If I want to have something to offer when I perform, then the music has to have meaning for me,” Gjermund explains. “Since my previous release I have, among other things, become the father of twins. They provided the inspiration for two of the tunes. Another was written for my father’s 70th birthday. So in that sense this is very personal music.”
Coincidence played a role when the Gjermund Larsen Trio was established ten years ago. The three musicians met and played together for the first time at an informal house concert. When Gjermund was commissioned to compose a work for the Telemark Festival in 2006, his first thought was naturally to get in touch with Andreas Utnem (grand piano/harmonium) and Sondre Meisfjord (double bass). The following year Gjermund won the Grappa New Artist Award, which gave him the opportunity to make a studio recording of the commissioned work he had written for the trio. This became the group’s debut album, Ankomst, which received a Spellemannspris (Norwegian Grammy award) the subsequent year.
Now, ten years later, a new commissioned work forms the basis of the new release. The work Salmeklang was commissioned by the Oslo International Church Music Festival, and the points of departure for the music are hymns as played by fiddler Hilmar Alexandersen (1902-93) and the Norwegian-Swedish cross-border folk music tradition. Salmeklang was presented for the first time in 2015 by the Gjermund Larsen Trio and the Swedish folk music group Nordic.
In the past few years a Nordic folk music scene has emerged with joint Nordic projects and folk music groups. Nordic, consisting of Magnus Zetterlund (mandolin), Erik Rydvall (keyed harp) and Anders Löfberg (cello), are trendsetting performers in this arena, and have, like the Gjermund Larsen Trio, distinguished themselves as being among the foremost performers of innovative and newly composed folk music in the Nordic area.