Grappa Musikkforlag AS

Marius Neset and Leif Ove Andsnes releases the first single from their upcoming album.


On September 20, 2024, we are proud to present the world premiere recording of the collaboration between saxophonist and composer Marius Neset and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, two of the world's leading performers in the fields of classical music and jazz, respectively. The first single from the project is the opening track 'Who We Are part 1: Beginning,' featuring Ingrid Neset (flute) and Louisa Tuck (cello), taken from the commissioned work 'Who We Are' for Leif Ove Andsnes' Rosendal Chamber Music Festival.

Singel Cover: Jonas Boström
Singel Cover: Jonas Boström


These two musicians, with backgrounds from different genres, usually focus on different stylistic models in their expressive idioms. For example, like most of his classical colleagues and unlike jazz performers, Andsnes does not improvise. But despite this difference and others, Who We Are strongly suggests that the similarities in the two players’ musical perceptions and approaches are more prevalent and significant than the differences, and that they are pursuing many of the same objectives in their musical narratives.

            In their encounter here, in Neset’s compositions, their playing is imbued with a tangibly inspired, hyper-communicative, fertile sense of community. Playfully, but with total, controlled ownership of both the stillness and the storm, they create music that sounds entirely organic and original, and which in the course of the album’s running time makes words and concepts such as “genres”, “genre blends”, and “fusion” seem oddly irrelevant.

About Who We Are

The collaboration between Marius Neset and Leif Ove Andsnes began with the piece 'Prague's Ballet,' which they performed together during Marius Neset's quintet concert in Håkonshallen at the Bergen International Festival. Leif Ove Andsnes attended the rest of the concert and says 

- I was extremely impressed by both his originality and the level of his work with his quintet. I thought that he was operating at a fascinating frontier in writing for those of us who don’t improvise, and decided to commission a work from him for the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival. He accepted the commission, and we aimed at having something ready for the Festival in 2020.”

            Did you give him free rein?

            “2020 was the year when Beethoven’s 250th birthday was celebrated, so I said, ‘There are no restrictions, but if you want, you can use something by Beethoven as your point of departure, for instance the second movement of the Seventh Symphony’.” 

“I was very pleased that Leif Ove wanted to collaborate more after ‘Prague’s Ballet’,” says Marius. “I had assumed that we would only work together that once, and thought, ‘What an experience it was to play with him; what a fantastic pianist.’ But then he contacted me again later that year. We met up in Bergen, talked about what we might consider doing at Rosendal, and decided on a combination including flute and cello. Actually, it was probably Leif Ove’s suggestion to invite Ingrid and Louisa to participate in what seemed to me to be a really exciting chamber quartet.”

            How did you feel about the idea of using Beethoven?

            “Positive. The chords in the second movement of the Seventh Symphony became, in a way, the basis for the harmonic concept of Who We Are. I played around these chords quite a bit for a while, but eventually I changed direction completely, and did it in my own way. All the same, I feel that there are some allusions to Beethoven here and there in Who We Are.”

            How do you explain the title?

            “Considering that the point of departure was in some respects Beethoven, I began to reflect on how we become the musicians we are. For my part, it is probably the result of everything I have listened to, studied, and played through the years. I wrote the work in four parts. The first is called ‘Beginning’, while the second is ‘Legacy’, which can be construed as referring to everything that helps make us the people we are. ‘Legacy’ was the part that I wrote first, just before Norway went into lockdown for Covid in 2020, and the title Who We Are derives from that.”

            What effect did the lockdown have on your composing activities?

            “It became clear fairly quickly that the 2020 festival would be cancelled, and then a few weeks went by when I didn’t have the energy to do anything at all. Everything seemed so uncertain, but after a while I decided to try to write something despite the situation. That became part three, ‘Uncertainty’, and it expresses the doubt and insecurity that I, and probably everyone else, felt during that period. I find it interesting that what happens around me, both musically and in society in general, has an impact on what I do, either consciously or unconsciously. Although I have a lot of musical ideas and tools that I can use for harmonies, rhythms, and so on, for me music is very much connected to feelings.”

            In what way?

            “I let my feelings take control when I’m composing. I constantly have to make choices, try out different alternatives, and make decisions based on the feelings that are evoked by what I hear.”

            What is the final part called?

            “It’s called ‘Evolution’. I wrote it in a somewhat elated mood in the late spring, after I had talked to Leif Ove and found out that it would be performed after all. Admittedly, not as a festival concert, but as a closed concert filmed for TV by NRK and broadcast as part of the show ‘Hovedscenen’. And in 2022 we finally got to perform Who We Are at the Rosendal festival.”

            “I think that Who We Are turned out to be incredibly good, and I really love it,” says Leif Ove Andsnes.

Photo: Helge Hansen

They are in excellent company with flautist Ingrid Søfteland Neset and cellist Louisa Tuck.  Ingrid Søfteland Neset, who lives in Copenhagen, is former principal flautist of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. She is the saxophonist’s sister and often plays together with him. Louisa Tuck, originally British but now based in Oslo, has been principal cellist of the Oslo Philharmonic since 2015, and also has an extensive solo career.

The album is recorded in Rainbow Studios December 2023, with Jørn Pedersen as producer and Martin Abrahamsen as studio technichan. The album will be released on Simax on September 20th 2024, on Vinyl, CD, Digitally and Dolby Atmos.  




Photo: Helge Hansen
Photo: Helge Hansen
Single cover: Jonas Boström
Single cover: Jonas Boström


About Grappa

Grappa Musikkforlag was established in 1983, and is the oldest and largest independent record company in Norway. Home of many prestigious labels including Hubro, Simax Classics, Odin, Blue Mood, Heilo, Barneselskapet and Grappa label. Close collaborations with other strong indies, including Rune Grammofon and Drabant. A wide variety of genres includes jazz, folk, classical, contemporary, pop, rock, blues, singer/songwriter – all from Norwegian artists of the highest quality.

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