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The recordings that you are now holding in your hands were made in the early 1990s and to this day have been released only in Russia. They will now appear for the first time in the West. The title melody, “Blue Fjord,” arrived in this world in a curious way, too. One of my first concert tours abroad included performances in (then) East Germany in the mid-1980s. I still remember the abandoned, dilapidated, grey factory where we were to give a concert. A few hours before our perfomance, I found myself alone behind the stage in the company of an equally solitary piano. I began to play for myself. The composition gave birth to itself without a single change during its creation. That’s when I thought: “Blue Fjord” – don’t forget.
The music on this CD is not directly inspired by Norwegian fjords. Rather, it is the expression of an inexplicable nostalgia for the future. Or maybe I just dreamt all of this, the way I have always dreamt my life.
This curious story took place in Moscow in the mid-1980s. At New Year’s, when, as is the custom, gifts are exchanged, my then-wife Irina gave me a large appointment calendar. The gift as such was quite ordinary, and it was just one of those many evenings when there was nothing in particular to do; I was slumped in the armchair of my Moscow apartment, looking listlessly at the objects around me. Then my gaze fell upon that very calendar. Opening it to page one, I saw the boxes for surname, given name, address, telephone, etc. I grabbed a pen from the table and wrote “Alperin, Misha” – and in the box for city and country, without any shred of conscious thought, I entered, “OSLO, NORWAY.” To this day I have no idea why I did that. At the time, I had no connection whatsoever with Norway or Oslo.
I was not especially interested in Norwegian culture, Nordic landscapes or the Norwegian people. My only association with Norway was the music of Jan Garbarek, which at the time had been a revelation. Evidently, in that music I had heard the whole range of emotions that were occupying me back then – the hot temper of the South as well as the serene thoughtfulness and quietude of northern latitudes. In any case, Norway was as distant to me as the sky or the moon.
Just the same – my fingers had written “OSLO, NORWAY.” For it was not me who wrote those words, it was my hand. That I remember distinctly, as I myself was completely baffled by the words written on the page.
About ten years later, I got a job teaching at the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo, and took up residence in Norway, where I now live, near the shores of the Oslo Fiord. Strange.
Even today I am as influenced by the contrast between South and North as I was back then. On the one hand, I am still a very southern person, with a love of all things southern. At the same time I feel very northern, with an unrelenting longing for the poetry of northern regions, its quiet and its landscapes. This introduction is perhaps necessary to help you, dear listener, grasp the reasons for the presence of so much southern gusto and rhythm on this CD, Blue Fjord.