2021 NativeDSD Album of the Year Award – Classical Guitar
On Take Me Along (Ta’ Mig Med), guitarist Jesper Sivebaek plays the music of rock musician Kim Larsen on Classical Guitar. Kim Larsen – the much-loved Danish rock musician and multi-artist – captured – in music and words – the Danish soul. With 500 recorded songs and 40 albums he was known by Danes of all ages.
Jesper Sivebæk, Guitarist, and head of guitar department at The Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen, had two heroes in his youth: Andrés Segovia and Kim Larsen – and they have followed him ever since.
For more than 10 years Jesper Sivebæk has worked on the pieces on this album. With his vast experience he uses the possibilities of the guitar to the utmost and follows the classical tradition of making instrumental versions of folk songs – like in Miguel Llobet’s arrangements of Catalan folksongs, in Benjamin Britten’s English and Chinese folksongs arrangements, and in Bela Bartok’s Hungarian folk songs. Sivebæk is true both to the beauty and the simplicity of Kim Larsen’s songs, and to his instrument – the classical Spanish guitar. In these arrangements, classical guitar players around the globe now have 12 new pieces to discover and put on their concert programs.
Erik Jensen, journalist, and former musical editor at Politiken wrote:
“Kim Larsen was unrivalled at taking the big moments and feelings of existence and converting them into music and lyrics in a playful, direct language that Danes loved. In his songs we were able to mirror ourselves and be precisely the Danes we wanted to be free and brazen, willful, and provocative, but also poetic and elegant, sensitive, and standing shoulder to shoulder with those struggling in society.
It is also striking that because the Danes’ favorite artist had so many roles and forms of expression, people in Denmark often underestimate his most important capacity: that of a composer. Thanks to Sivebæk’s fine versions of some of the melodies, they can now stand beautifully and pure in their own right – without being ‘packaged’ in all the commotion and mythology that surrounded Kim Larsen.
It does justice to the melodies to stand alone in the company of a guitar with all that they have to offer in the way of sadness (‘Masser af succes / Lots of succes and ‘Der er en sang’/There is a Song) as well as ear-catching ‘mood-spreaders’ (‘Himlen’/Heaven, ‘Kom igen’/Come again, ‘Flyvere i natten’/Planes in the Night, ‘Om lidt’/In a moment and ‘Kvinde min’/Lady,oh,lady) or the more ‘party-like’ numbers (such as ‘Hvis din far gi’r dig lov’/If your dad says OK, ‘Joanna’ or ‘Susan Himmelblå’). Just image if the impossible will happen, that Jesper Sivebæk manages to teach Danes new things about their great singer. That he was also a fabulously good composer, one that could rub shoulders with the classical world.
That would surely please Kim Larsen, who in my last of many interviews with him said this to me: “I have started to listen to classical music in my old age, which is classic, isn’t it? Albinoni, for example – he wrote some pretty groovy hits.” Precisely like Larsen’s own songs, one could add. But that is superfluous”.
Jesper Sivebaek – Guitar
Total time: 00:41:07
|Digital Audio Workstation||
Pyramix Digital Audio Workstation from Merging Technologies with Tango Controller
|Original Recording Format|
|Release Date||June 10, 2021|
Lovely classical guitar arrangements of songs by Danish rock/pop icon Kim Larsen
“Ta’ Mig Med” (Take Me Along) is a line from the hit song Joanna by the Danish rock/pop icon Kim Larsen (1945-2018). It is also the title of a collection of Larsen songs arranged for classical guitar, performed by Jesper Sivebaek, and released on the Our Recordings label.
In the 1970s, Larsen rose to prominence as part of the Danish rock band Gasolin’. After the group broke up in 1978, Larsen moved to New York, hoping to establish himself as an international artist. By Larsen’s own account, that effort was a failure. Larsen returned to Denmark, where he pursued a solo career, as well as performing with bands that bore his name (Kim Larsen and Bellami, Kim Larsen and Kjukken). At a time when British and American musicians dominated the rock and pop fields, Larsen gave Denmark its own identity and pride of place.
When Kim Larsen died of prostate cancer in 2018 at the age of 72, he was revered as one of Denmark’s true musical luminaries and icons. In his liner notes, Jesper Sivebaek cites Andrés Segovia and Kim Larsen (both of whom he saw in concert) as “(my) two musical heroes.” Sivebaek decided to arrange several of Larsen’s melodies for classical guitar. In addition to those, “Ta’ Mig Med” includes arrangements by Daniel Murray (Der Er En Sang) and Asger Agerskov Buur (Kom Igen, Som Et Strejf Af En Dråbe). Like many of his era, Larsen was inspired and influenced by the Beatles. And the spirit of the McCartney/Lennon songbook is evident in Larsen’s lovely and beguiling melodies. Like so many Beatles songs, once you’ve heard a Larsen melody, it’s likely to stay with you (and not in a horrid “earworm” kind of way).
Just as many McCartney/Lennon songs have fared well in various kinds of instrumental arrangements, so Larsen’s songs thrive in these settings for classical guitar. With YouTube acting as an invaluable resource, I compared each of Larsen’s original songs with the transcriptions performed by Sivebaek. Larsen’s melodies, always paramount, are interwoven with many other influences, both classical and popular.
Jesper Sivebaek’s stated affection for Larsen and his music is quite clear throughout this recital. The guitarist plays the melodies with the utmost respect and love, striking an ideal balance between the roles of vocalist and virtuoso guitarist. I found this recital enchanting from start to close, and the inspiration to listen to many of Larsen’s own versions of his songs; both fulfilling experiences.
The recorded sound is lovely, reproducing the artist in a warm and detailed acoustic. In addition to Sivebaek’s commentary, Erik Jensen provides welcome insights into Larsen’s career and influence. Sivebaek relates that he has played the Larsen arrangements in his classical “concerts in Spain, Italy, Finland and China, and the subsequent response has been quite overwhelming. The audience take to them spontaneously.”
Granted this is a genre that has been an integral part of my musical life, but this is an album that will give a diverse range of music lovers much pleasure. Highly recommended.
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