At just 13 years old, Norwegian boy soprano Aksel Rykkvin releases his debut recording of challenging soprano arias by Bach, Handel and Mozart with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and conductor Nigel Short. A classically trained singer since the age of eight, Aksel has so far enjoyed a short but stratospheric career, lauded by critics and audiences alike for his unusually rich and mature voice, skilful virtuosity and innate musicality. Aksel is a fluent English speaker and already a household name in Norway, performing regularly with the Norwegian National Opera, including in the title role of Kurt Weill’s opera Der Jasager and ‘the Boy’ in the world premiere of Rolf Wallin’s Elysium. He has also performed as a soloist with many of Norway’s most prominent instrumentalists, ensembles, accompanists and conductors.
Aksel funded recording the project after setting up his own crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter raising nearly £25,000. The album is released this September on Signum Records and includes a selection of technically demanding arias by Bach, Mozart and Handel.
Notable solo appointments include a sold-out concert with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in 2015. The previous year saw Aksel win his category at the Norwegian Music Competition for Youth, achieving the maximum possible score from a distinguished jury.
Conductor Nigel Short said: “Aksel has a voice which we don’t come across very often and his exceptional musicality is evident. He’s been easily able to tackle some complex arias, rarely taken on by someone of his age, and I’m delighted that we’ve had the support of the fantastic Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and team at Signum Records. Aksel’s professionalism throughout the tiring recording process has been first rate, and I know this is a very special first step in what should be a long and fruitful musical career.”
Aksel said: “I’m so thrilled to release my debut album on Signum Records with such a vibrant Orchestra and conductor. Making a recoding is a scary prospect for someone my age, but it was a fantastic experience and I’m looking forward to bringing a selection of my favourite arias to the public.”
NRK Documentary on Aksel:
The recording sessions for the project took place at St Augustine’s Church in Kilburn, London, over a period of 6 days in January 2016. Aksel worked with musicians from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and renowned conductor Nigel Short, who has worked with orchestras and choirs around the world and founded the choir Tenebrae. The disc’s repertoire spans from arias from Bach cantatas through to two arias from Marriage of Figaro and the challenging Alleluia from Exsultate Jubilate. Handel features prominently with a selection of arias including ‘Laschia ch’io pianga’ from Rinaldo, ‘Let the bright Seraphim’ from Samson, ‘Barbara!’ from Alcina, ‘Happy, oh thrice happy we’ from Joshua and many more.
Through his website, Facebook page and YouTube account, Aksel has a dedicated international following, many of whom donated to the Kickstarter campaign to make his debut recording possible.
Aksel singing ‘Alleluja’, the finale of J.S. Bach’s Cantata BWV51: