Ketil Bjørnstad

“I have never understood pianists who sell themselves to a special piano factory, saying: “This is the only one for me.” The different factories offers different treasures. C. Bechstein creates instruments that are very personal, often surprisingly dynamic, and with a perfect touch. I am impressed by the wooden and warm sounds you can create, and the richness in the overtones are highly inspiring. C. Bechstein makes instruments for a life-long friendship. I am happy that one of my childhoods favourites is fully back on the market again.”

Ketil Bjørnstad studied classic piano in Oslo, London and Paris and played Bela Bartók's Third Piano Concerto together with Oslo's Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of sixteen, before performing with various jazz and rock formations.   He debuted as a writer in 1972 with a collection of poems titled "Alene ut". He has since published another thirty-one books, mainly novels, but also essays and poetry. His biographies of Edvard Munch (1995) and Edvard Grieg (1998) sold very well in Germany, as did "Vindings Spiel", a novel that Der Spiegel listed among the bestsellers of foreign literature in 2006. This book opened a trilogy that Bjørnstad completed in with "Der Fluss" (2009) and "Die Frau" (2010). 

In April 2012, to mark Bjørnstad's sixtieth birthday, ECM issued the "sound track" of the trilogy, recorded on a C. Bechstein grand piano.

Photo © Nina Djerff


Ketil Bjørnstad improvises Nordic vastness

As Ulrich Steinmetzger stated in Thüringer Allgemeine: “With his new double CD entitled Vinding’s Music – Songs from the Alder Thicket, Ketil Bjørnstad offers us a recording that delights the ears and takes stock of his piano career in its autumn years.” Bjørnstad, who wrote a semi-biographical trilogy centred on the young pianist Aksel Vinding as the main character, belongs to a rare breed of artists who are no less talented as writers than musicians. To mark his sixtieth birthday, ECM published something akin to a “soundtrack” for the novel in April 2012. The double CD does not only contain works by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Barber (mentioned in the trilogy and recorded live on the CD), but also improvisations that the Norwegian writer/pianist/composer recorded on a C. Bechstein C 234 grand piano at Pettersens Kolonial Lydstudio (Hønefoss, Norway).Ketil Bjørnstad’s improvisations forgo virtuosity. The music is mainly quiet and meditative. The melodies suggest Nordic vastness. Bjørnstad extensively uses the Bechstein’s singing trebles and draws impressive notes from the instrument when he plays piano and pianissimo. This might be the reason why Ulrich Steinmetzger describes Bjørnstad as a “piano whisperer”, a musician whose style fascinates even without fortissimo.