Jerry Johansson and a String Quartet from Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Review from Foxy Digtalis


Over the past many years, my interest in Eastern music and art has risen dramatically. A particular infatuation with Indian stringed instruments was at the center of this near-obsession, and especially their use in Western music. On this CD from the amazing Kning Disk imprint out of Sweden, we get the perfect blend of Eastern and Western classical styles. It's a unique and enchanting aural journey.

On this two-track CD (each clocking in at just around 25 minutes), Johansson plays sitar while his compatriot, Camilla Wahlberg, provides the mesmerizing tanpura backing. Along with three violins and a cello, the six musicians on this recording start on an expedition down the Ganges, only to end up floating freely in the Baltic Sea. As the first track begins with it's whimpering violins and plucked cello, it seems as though this will be traditional Western fare. But two minutes in, Johansson and Wahlberg crash the party. This piece introduces each section of instrumentation individually, beginning with what most Western ears are used to before offering up a slice of shimmering Indian delight. The sitar and tanpura are as alluring as ever, but the real magic begins around the seven minute mark when both forces collide.

Johansson composed and arranged each of the tracks here, a feat that is no less impressive than his skills on the sitar. It is the perfect juxtaposition of these two, separate modes. Each side has its moments of being in the fore, and nobody's toes get stepped on. Johansson's compositions show a great deal of knowledge and respect for each side of the coin. He allows the instruments plenty of room to breathe, but keeping them in-line enough so that everything remains cohesive and on-track. In all, it's a brilliant exercise by an extremely talented individual.

This album is the near-perfect melding of Eastern and Western classical styles, giving listeners a chance to experience two approaches of music simultaneously. It's a glorious juxtaposition and one of the albums of the year... a true delight.

Foxy Digitalis
Brad Rose
(June 28, 2006)