Ulf Soderberg is the creative talent behind Sephiroth. The gorgeous gothic architecture his compositions are framed in resemble no one else's. They move the listener in a very specific way to the interior, far inside the composition's marrow, and then leave her or him there. Söderberg's music has the stamp of the dark northlands all over it, but there is a warmth and passion in it as well. He relates stories about the inexorable and destructive power of Time, mankind's futile attempts of resistance, and the sunken cities, fallen towers, and overgrown ruins that this has resulted in. Dark eerie soundscapes and ritualistic drums are combined with his own field recordings from places like Cairo, Iceland, and gloomy Nordic forests. Truly mysterious and truly fantastic.
… Violinist Ulf Wallin and pianist Roland Pöntinen recorded the Sonata No. 1 in 2009 in Stockholm and the remaining sonatas in 2010 in Berlin, and there is a noticeable improvement in sound quality in the later recordings, possibly due to closer microphone placement and more resonant acoustics. Even so, Wallin and Pöntinen are consistent in their penetrating interpretations and they deliver handsome performances that hold the album together and make it a fine artistic achievement.
A highly versatile musician, Ulf Wallin has recorded a succession of discs for BIS, including music by Schoenberg, Schnittke, Janacek and Hindemith. Lately he has focussed on Romantic composers, resulting in an acclaimed recording of Schumann's complete works for violin and orchestra (Daily Telegraph: 'It's hard to imagine more sympathetic and insightful performances of these wonderful pieces'). Supported by the eminent Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by Okko Kamu, Wallin now offers a programme spanning some 30 years of the long career of Max Bruch.
Franz Liszt composed little chamber music, though the handful of pieces he wrote or arranged for violin and piano represent his enduring interest in that combination, from the Grand Duo concertant (1835/49) to La lugubre gondola (1882-83). This program by violinist Ulf Wallin and pianist Roland Pöntinen offers those pieces and five more selections that demonstrate Liszt's fondness for passionate, long-breathed melodies in the Magyar vein and turbulent accompaniments that allowed for virtuosity. The standout track of this hybrid SACD is the arrangement of the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12 (ca. 1850), which gives a full treatment to those characteristics, and provides Wallin and Pöntinen their most dazzling displays. While the moods of the surrounding pieces are for the most part lyrical and subdued, the performances are compelling and the sound of the recording is close-up and focused, with the presence and clarity of a recital.
Unfamiliar combinations in music can lead to surprising, captivating results. At the “Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic” concert in October 2014, series curator Siggi Loch presented Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius in a new and unexpected role: as second guitarist alongside the undisputed master of flamenco nuevo, Gerardo Núñez. The combination of Wakenius and Núñez has succeeded in sending the Jazzpaña project off into a wholly new direction. The Tagesspiegel described the occasion as a “mighty fiesta.” Sparks definitely flew, Núñez had an appetite for more of the same, and he invited his Swedish colleague straight back to Madrid for the re-match.
Those who've been exposed to Ulf Wakenius' more aggressive side will be pleasantly surprised by Enchanted Moments, a generally rewarding collection of ballads and standards that finds the Swedish fusion/hard bop/post-bop improvisor playing acoustic guitar exclusively. Wakenius' range of influences has included Pat Metheny and John McLaughlin as well as earlier guitarists like Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall – and in this very lyrical and reflective setting, Metheny's influence is especially apparent. Well-respected in Swedish jazz circles but little known in the U.S., Wakenius is, for the most part, well-served by Scandinavian jazzmen Lars Jansson (acoustic piano, synthesizers) Lars Danielsson (acoustic bass, synthesizers)…