Agnes Obel at Somerset House
Somerset House is a perfect environment for Agnes Obel’s ethereal classical music, her haunting sound floating across the open air on a balmy summer night. An eclectic mix of people make up the crowd showing that Obel has managed to create an accessible and interesting mix of classical folk that is not constrained by time or fashion; one can imagine anyone anywhere listening to her work and appreciating it. Whilst Obel’s style is minimalist, it does not lack in depth or emotion, her music proving to be of an introspective kind.
Obel opens her set with Fivefold , her distinctive piano layered over double bass and violin, the contrast between tempos of the piano and string instruments holding the audience in thrall. From her 2010 album, Obel performs Philharmonics in which her hazy yet defined voice is incorporated as another instrument, not intended to overpower but to enhance her exquisite melodies.
There is a definite sense of a story being told; though it can be enjoyed anywhere, Obel’s music certainly does not fall into the category of easy listening. It transcends usual boundaries of classical and folk, creating a delicate and striking fusion. Aventine,from her 2013 album, evokes curiosity, a seemingly constant piano creating a sense of movement contrasting with the more tragic and poignant Dorian. The effective use of dynamic sound shifts the audience on a journey, an antithesis to the static and the stale.
Obel closes her show with Close Watch and Smoke and Mirrors, tender and beguiling love songs from each of her albums. The singer’s use of piano and simple lyrics emphasises the lullaby qualities of her music, swaying the audience into a magical daze. She may be a woman of few words on stage but this hardly matters as the quality of her music more than speaks for itself. A graceful Agnes Obel exits the stage leaving a deep sense of serenity behind her in the crowd.
Photo: Kim Erlandsen
For further information and future events visit Agnes Obel’s website here.
Watch the video for The Curse here: