Every ACT Album has it s own story. Schloss Elmau plays a role in many. This magnificent hotel at the foot of the Bavarian Alps, far removed from
everyday life and constantly flooded with culture, has inspired a number of outstanding artists from Gidon Kremer and Brad Mehldau to Esbjrn Svensson.
Moreover in recent times several award-winning albums by ACT artists such as Joachim Khn and Michael Wollny, Gwilym Simcock and Dieter Ilg have been
recorded at this unique place.
This multi-talented pupil of Camilla Wicks, Emanuel Hurwitz and Stephan Barratt-Due also lives out his passion as a chamber musician – for example
in an all-star quintet with Martha Argerich, Joshua Bell, Yuri Bashmet and Mischa Maisky – as festival diretor, university professor and composer,
and not least of all as improviser.
This time it was the launch pad for a new and surprising collaboration, simultane- ously building a bridge between Classical and Jazz, and helping
many people revisit and resume a long-awaited success story.
In early 2011, label owner Siggi Loch attended a concert by the Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud at Schloss Elmau. Afterwards, the two of them
got talking, and Kraggerud mentioned the legendary Christmas album "It's snowing on my piano" by his countryman Bugge Wesseltoft: "That's
our absolute favourite CD! It plays non-stop at our place every year from early December to the end of January." Upon hearing that, Siggi Loch happily
introduced himself as the producer of the album. "Why don't you make another album for the rest of the year?" Kraggerud then asked. "Would you
play on it?" Loch countered. "Of course," came the immediate response. The only thing that remained was to convince Bugge Wesseltoft to join them on
the project. He didn't hesitate to consent, and so it was that they came together in November 2011 to record "Last Spring" in Oslo's famous
Rainbow Studio, the place where "It's snowing on my piano" was recorded.
This makes Kraggerud one of a growing number of classical musicians for whom the two great music forms Classical and Jazz are not mutually exclusive
but instead complement each other – which goes without saying for this largely classically educated modern Jazz exponent. This is important for
Bugge Wesseltoft, the grand master of the synthesis of live electronics and jazz improvisation, to now show his more tranquil, classical side again.
Together, Wesseltoft and Kraggerud let time progress one season from the winter theme of "It's snowing on my piano" and put together a sparkling
program of 16 pieces with connections to spring for "Last Spring", which is founded mostly on Norwegian folk music. The title track is based on a
theme from the great Nordic Romantic Edvard Grieg. Norwegian romanticism is also apparent in many of the other tracks. Alongside folk songs like "Om
Kvelden" and "Hei hu", also called upon are indigenous composers from various ages, largely unknown to us: from Anne Haavie, deceased in 1888, and
Lars Sraas the Elder, to the Danish organist Otto Mortensen, who died in 1986 and the young singer and lyrist yonn Groven Myhren. Then there is also
an improvisation on the baroque La Folia, the oldest melodic-harmonic compositional structure, and finally a rendition of Johannes Brahms'
It is no coincidence that the Classical musician Kraggerud is a fan of that CD, which is the most successful ACT album to date, and which has been
lauded repeatedly since its release in 1997 for its "almost celestial beauty" and as the "greatest Christmas CD of them all" (Westdeutsche Allgemeine
As the title intimates, "Last Spring" is a revisiting of spring. It is not an exulting, whirling awakening, but a sustained, minimalistic meditation,
oriented strongly towards the details, the variance of the melodies, the breadth and beauty of the sound. It is based on the most perfect interaction
possible: Wesseltoft's soft piano daubs melt like wax into the melodies that Kraggerud entices out of his 1744 Guarneri violin, his Harald Lund
viola and his unique six-stringed viola Concorda.
There are tangible musical predilections of Kraggerud that make understandable his love of the minimalistic and "classically" austere "It's
snowing on my piano", which at the same time celebrates variation and the spirit of freedom. This 38 year-old is one of the most successful solo
violinists of his time, having played with the best orchestras – most recently with the Danish National Orchestra and the London Philharmonic
Orchestra – and conductors in the most prestigious concert halls around the world.