One of only a handful of internationally-acclaimed artists from Norway, Arve Tellefsen stands in the company of Ole Bull, Camilla Wicks (whose father was Norwegian) and, more recently, Henning Kraggerud as an ambassador for Norwegian violin playing and the music of Scandinavian composers. To this end he performs in the all-Norwegian Grieg Festival Piano Quartet with violist Lars Anders Tomter and cellist Truls Mørk.
Tellefsen’s musical aptitude was noticed by his parents when, aged four, he started playing a harmonica. At six he attended Trondheim’s School of Music, learning violin with Arne Stoltenberg, and at ten he was playing with the local university orchestra. Henry Holst taught him at the Royal Danish Conservatory whence he graduated with full marks. Further studies ensued with Galamian and, finally, Szigeti.
Tellefsen’s recordings reveal a somewhat objective style rather than an especially individual or charismatic voice. That is not to say that he fails to move the listener, but that his playing is a blank canvas onto which the works are projected – evidence perhaps of an admirably unassuming attitude. As one might expect from a Galamian pupil, the backdrop of style and technique is an immaculate, well-regulated one, able to adapt to varied repertoire. Thus, his Bach E minor Concerto (1992) is crisp and free from eccentricity. Proof of Tellefsen’s versatility is in the more overtly virtuoso delivery of Bull’s Op. 2 Nocturne and evocative rural soundscape A Mountain Vision (2004). Whether the wide vibrato and rather disparate (if beautiful) tone have anything in common with Bull’s practices is debatable, but Tellefsen conveys this charming music with great sincerity. Equally, the Debussy Sonata (1975) is played with sympathetic understanding. There is some pleasing tempo flexibility in the first movement, whilst the whole work elicits a sense of grace and delicacy from Tellefsen and Pålsson. The Sibelius and Nielsen concertos (1995 and 1989 respectively), in tandem with works of lesser-known composers such as Stenhammar and Sommerfeldt, testify further to Tellefsen’s enjoyment of Scandinavian music and are delivered with polish. What comes across with Tellefsen is a well-developed, effortless technique and a thoroughly musical approach to the violin which makes him worthy of his ambassadorship.