Cover image of Havana-Rio-Moscow


Stein-Erik Olsen

Treje Mikkelsen

Academy of St Martin in the Fields

HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS: Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra

LEO BROUWER: Concerto Elegiaco (Guitar Concerto No. 3)

NIKITA KOSHKIN: Bergen Concerto

Stein-Erik Olsen has released many highly acclaimed albums throughout his career. For his first guitar concerto recording he teams up with The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, renowned for its outstanding sound – rooted in outstanding musicianship.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields

The London-based orchestra is formed from a group of leading musicians. Originally directed by Sir Neville from the leader’s chair, the collegiate spirit and flexibility of the original small, conductor-less ensemble remains an Academy hallmark. This tradition continues today with virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell as Music Director.

Villa-Lobos’s Guitar Concerto from the original manuscript

Stein-Erik Olsen has previously performed Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Guitar Concerto on many occasions, but this time he has a copy of the original manuscript as a starting point, sent to him by the Villa-Lobos Museum in Rio de Janerio. This has resulted in a number of new ideas for interpretation, and inspired a new reading of the whole piece for this recording. Leo Brouwer’s Concerto Elegiaco is an exiting and inventive, virtuoso composition. The second movement is nothing short of a musical gem, perhaps the most exquisite in the field of guitar concertos.

‘Bergen Concerto’ – dedicated to Stein-Erik Olsen

Nikita Koshkin, born in Moscow, Russia, is a virtuoso guitarist but his international reputation has been established by his superb compositions performed world-wide. The ‘Bergen Concerto’ was written for Stein-Erik Olsen in 2007. The piece is joyful and fresh – also with material clearly rooted in Koshkin’s homeland Russia.


"Since his first appearances at the Cannington Festival in the early '80s, Stein-Erik Olsen has been a class-act of the highest order, and this triple bill provides further evidence of this world-ranking abilities."
-PF, Classical Guitar Magazine USA 2015

"Stein-Erik Olsen…is perfectly cast: his playing throughout the disc is clean, controlled and thoughtful…unfailingly pleasant."
-International Record Review March 2015 (UK)

"Olsen's customary thoughtful, lapidary playing is perfectly complemented by a very much on-form Academy of St. Martin in the Fields under the Norwegian conductor Terje Mikkelsen, the whole vividly captured by Simon Kiln and Arne Akselberg in the Abbey Road Studios."
-William Yeoman Gramophone UK

"Was it Stein-Erik Olsen's debut concert in 1981, or was it his graduation concert that I attended, almost by coincidence, in order to listen to a classical guitarist who was unknown to me at the time? After all, classical guitar debuts did not happen every day and, since I was studying that very instrument at the time, I simply had to witness this debut, however casually. And what a debut it was! I cannot, for the life of me, remember what Olsen played but I still vividly remember that I hear a guitarist playing at a level that I had not experienced at the time, certainly in Norway.

I all but lurched down the stairs of the hall, totally transformed. As I remember it, Olsen's performances were assured, both technically and musically. He had an authority I had never before witnessed among Norwegian guitarists. I have since followed Olsen through his recordings, from his first album in 1984 to the new release containing three guitar concertos.

About "Havana – Rio – Moscow"
Olsen's playing is outstanding and rigorous. He draws attention toward the works he plays. He impressively balances technique with communicating the music, but technique is never there for its own sake, the way one can easily detect in, for instance, John Williams' Sony recording of the Villa-Lobos concerto.

Olsen's interpretation does not get in the way of the music. He is a kind of David Oistrakh of the guitar. His recording of these three concertos with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Terje Mikkelsen is something of a momentous occasion, and I have seldom experienced a record of guitar concertos where the balance between the soloist and the orchestra is so perfect. Geographically we are talking about Brower's Havana, Villa-Lobos' Rio and Koshkin's Moscow. However, a fourth city (London), where this fine record was made is just as important. As is, I might add, Bergen."
-Egil Baumann, Klassekampen 2015 (Norway)

"Das Konzert von Heitor Villa-Lobos ist weit bekannt und bedarf keiner Erläuterung – das "Bergen Concerto" von Nikita Koshkin dagegen, geschrieben für Stein-Erik Olsen, wird hier erstmalig auf CD vorgelegt.

Nikita Koshkin hat bewusst ein ausgewachsenes Sinfonieorchester besetzt – als Herausforderung und als selbstbewusstes Farbebekennen … und Musik aller Couleur ist dem Komponisten dann auch gelungen. Der erste Satz gehört dem Soloinstrument, der Gitarre. Hier hat es Freiraum und Platz sich zu entfalten und das „concertare“ wenigstens streckenweise für sich zu entscheiden. Natürlich hat Villa-Lobos sein Konzert nicht umsonst als „Concerto | Para violão (Guitarra) e pequena orquestra“ instrumentiert und betitelt, als „Konzert für Gitarre und kleines [!] Orchester“. Aber selbst in Nikita Koshkins drittem Satz, der streckenweise Filmmusik-Züge trägt und nicht an Holz und Blech spart, bleibt das Soloinstrument Chef im Ring. Das Konzert ist eben exzellent instrumentiert, Koshkin kann das! Und natürlich: Die Academy of St. Martin in the Fields weiß, was sie tut!

Stein Erik Olsen – von ihm ging die gloriose Idee für diese CD und diese Werkzusammenstellung aus – ist ein besonders in Sachen Kammermusik und Neuer Musik erfahrener Musiker. Hier hat er es wieder einmal bewiesen: Die Gitarre baute die Rolle, die sie im Musikleben des 21. Jahrhunderts einnimmt, spielend weiter aus, wenn sich ihre Interpreten von der Salonmusik der vorletzten Jahrhundertwende verabschieden könnten. Segovia ist schließlich seit fast dreißig Jahren tot!"
-Guitare und Laute (Germany)