One may not often see links between the cultures of Norway and Azerbaijan (okay, you’ve got me – none ever crossed my mind!), but the excellent pairing of Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing and Azerbaijani pianist Nargiz Aliyarova made a compelling case for just such connections this week at Bruno Walter Auditorium. Playing works of Ali-Zadeh, Garayev, and Melikov from Azerbaijan, and Brustad and Grieg from Norway – along with a Prokofiev opening – they gave a uniquely stimulating recital entitled “From East to West.”
The program was subtitled, “Prokofiev Violin Sonata No. 2 and Works from Azerbaijan and Norway,” but the Russian role in the evening’s theme seemed to be that of a musical bridge (alluded to in Dr. Aliyarova’s comments about the influence of Russian teachers on both performers and their chosen composers).
The focal roles of Norway and Azerbaijan were underscored in Dr. Aliyarova’s introductory remarks, including references to the Norwegian explorer and ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl, whose Azerbaijan-Viking theories have invited discussion years after his death (the reader may find more about these fascinating but highly debated hypotheses here Thor Heyerdahl Azerbaijan-Viking theories.