Rolf Wallin

Five Seasons




Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
Andris Poga, conductor
Eldbjørg Hemsing, violin
Ida Nielsen, electric bass guitar
Wu Wei, sheng

Crossover, Contemporary, Electronic, Indie


Booklet with liner notes


March 2024

Catalogue No.:
ODE 1429-2


Track listing

CD 75:50
Rolf Wallin (1957-)
1 Stride (2023) 9:11
Whirld (2018), for violin and orchestra 21:14
2 I. Nigredo - 5:59
3 II. Albedo - 3:44
4 III. Citrinitas - 5:34
5 IV. Rubedo 5:57
6 Spirit (2017), for electric bass guitar and orchestra 18:53
Five Seasons (2022), for sheng and orchestra 25:59
7 Introduction - I. Water 8:39
8 II. Earth 3:30
9 III. Wood 2:31
10 IV. Metal 5:10
11 V. Fire 6:09

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Complete description

This album of works by the prominent Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin (b. 1957), one of Scandinavia’s leading composers, performed by the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra from Norway under Andris Poga includes new works with three outstanding soloists: Wallin’s concerto for the traditional Chinese instrument sheng features award-winning artist Wu Wei, and his violin concerto rapidly-rising violin star Eldbjørg Hemsing. Wallin’s ‘Spirit’ for electric bass guitar and orchestra was written to and here recorded by Ida Nielsen, voted as one of the most notable bass players in the world and known as Prince’s bassist.


“During the past few years, humanity has been punched from many directions, by virus, weather and war. In times like these it’s easy to sink into lethargy and passivity. (...) But I’ve found a personal cure for getting out of the mental and physical quagmire. To stride – to walk somewhere with long, decisive steps, as one dictionary defines it – has been a great therapy for me. (...) It makes me see the other side of the coin and the many people moving the world in the right direction, even if their tremendous contributions rarely reach the headlines: aid workers, doctors, campaigners for democracy and rights, and – in another way – musicians!”  (Rolf Wallin on Stride)


“The world is a whirl, and every whirl is a world, we have been told for thousands of years by ecstatic mystics. (...) In this violin concerto I have returned to the puzzling and mystifying ‘whirld’ of fractal mathematics, where the straight rules of numbers open up into the realm of swirling clouds, meandering rivers and mesmerising bird flocks. When these so-called chaotic mathematical patterns are projected onto music, strange melodies come to life; like plants, like animals that move in fascinating, unpredictable ways. The dry numbers give birth to surprisingly emotional melodies – yearning, serene, strident, jubilant. In the process of making a violin concerto out of these melodies I have felt like the old alchemists (...) in order to bring forth the magical Philosophers’ Stone, to make precious metals, to heal illnesses, or to make life out of dead matter. And more important for many of them, as a process of personal spiritual healing and transcendence.” (Rolf Wallin on Whirld)


“I became aware of Ida Nielsen’s musicality, her radiant stage presence and exhilarating slap hand technique when she played bass with Prince in his last six years on earth. Like him, Ida has this wonderful ability to spread positive energy, and now she continues to spread love and joy as a singer, songwriter and bassist with her own band. Spirit is a celebration of this joy.” (Rolf Wallin on Spirit)


“When I was invited to write a concerto for the wonderful sheng virtuoso Wu Wei, I used the opportunity to expand my journey into the fascinating universe of Wu Xing. This ancient Chinese philosophy of five elements or ‘phases’ is still central and vital in most aspects of Chinese life. (...) In a traditional Chinese year there are five seasons, each corresponding to an element: Spring/Wood, Early Summer/Fire, Late Summer/Earth, Autumn/Metal, Winter/Water. And just as the seasons flow seamlessly into each other, so the five elements are in constant flux; either nourishing, as Water feeds a tree (Wood), or destroying, as Water extinguishes Fire. Reflecting this state of flux, in Five Elements, the music is constantly on the move, always transforming from one musical character (or ‘element’) to another. And it is all contained within the sheng, this incredibly versatile mouth organ, with its rich and proud centuries-old tradition. And still it is capable of transcending into new and unknown musical territories.” (Rolf Wallin on Five Seasons)


The artistry of internationally renowned Sheng virtuoso Wu Wei reaches far beyond the traditional boundaries of his more than 3000-year-old Chinese instrument and brings it well into the 21st century. Wu Wei’s radiant and transparent tone as well as the infinite possibilities offered by his instrument in terms of melody, harmony, rhythm, polyphony have led him to collaborating with many artists, composers (Huang Ruo, Guus Janssen, Unsuk Chin, Jukka Tiensuu, Bernd Richard Deutsch, Ondrej Adamek, Donghoon Shin, Enjott Schneider, Man Fang, Rolf Wallin…) and ensembles in traditional, chamber or orchestral settings, improvising in solo concerts or with jazz big Bands, playing electronic music as well as taking part in minimal or baroque music performances. In the new music repertoire, Wu Wei has been invited by orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, hr-Sinfonieorchester in Frankfurt, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, just to name a few. Since 2013, Wu Wei has been a Professor teaching the Sheng at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.


One of the most charismatic and leading young violinists on the international scene today, Eldbjørg Hemsing is acclaimed for her “radiant and sophisticated performances” (BBC Music Magazine) and is a musician committed to bringing her art form to new and emerging audiences across the globe. Her international career took off quickly, leading to four award-winning albums and world premieres of numerous compositions in many of the greatest halls of the world. Eldbjørg Hemsing regularly collaborates with orchestras such as Bergen Philharmonic, Belgian National Orchestra, MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Shanghai and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestras, and is a welcome guest at prestigious venues such as Lincoln Center New York, the Kennedy Center Washington, Wigmore Hall, Verbier Festival and the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. She has developed a close collaboration with the composer Tan Dun with whom she has premiered, toured, and recorded several award-winning works. She plays a 1707 Antonio Stradivari ‘Rivaz, Baron Gutmann’ violin, on loan from the Dextra Musica Foundation.


Ida Nielsen started playing bass at the age of 16. She studied at the Royal Danish Music Academy of Music from 1993 to 1998 with electric bass as her main instrument. Nielsen released the album Marmelade in 2007 using the pseudonym Bassida, and in 2011 she released Sometimes a girl needs some sugar too using her own name. She got her life turned upside down when Prince discovered her music online in 2010. Shortly after, she was a member of his band, played, and toured with the New Power Generation and later 3rdeyegirl until the iconic artist passed away in 2016. The bass player, composer and vocalist released her album TURNITUP, in memory of Prince, in 2016 with more albums to follow: Time 2 Stop Worrying in 2019, 02022020 in 2020, and her latest album More Sauce, Please! in 2023.


Stavanger Symphony Orchestra (SSO) performs and has its concerts in the Fartein Valen in Stavanger concert hall in Norway which is considered one of the best concert halls in Europe. Andris Poga is SSO’s Chief Conductor. Tianyi Lu is the orchestra’s current Conductor-in-Residence. Recent guest conductors have included Karina Canellakis, Pablo Heras-Casado, James Gaffigan, Stanislav Kochanovsky, Dalia Stasevska and Vassily Sinaisky. Frans Brüggen was the SSO’s Artistic Director for early music from 1990–1997; Philippe Herreweghe had the same position from 2000 to 2004 and Fabio Biondi from 2006 to 2016. The orchestra has recorded several albums of Scandinavian music, as well as baroque music with Fabio Biondi. The orchestra was founded in 1938 and consists of 85 musicians from 23 different nations.


Andris Poga is the Chief Conductor of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. He was the Music Director of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra from 2013 till 2021 and continues to collaborate with the LNSO as its Artistic Advisor. Highlights of recent years have included concerts with the leading orchestras of Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Scandinavia. After the first successful collaborations he has been invited back to the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester Hamburg, WDR Symphony Cologne, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo and many others. He has also conducted the Wiener Symphoniker, Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, among others. In 2010, Andris Poga was the First Prize winner of the Evgeny Svetlanov International Conducting Competition, which thrust him into the international scene. He was an assistant to Paavo Järvi at the Orchestre de Paris from 2011 to 2014, and from 2012 to 2014 he served as an assistant conductor for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.