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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Harald SÆVERUD (1897-1992)
Violin Concerto Op. 37 (1956) [34.16]
Symphony No. 3 Op. 5 (1925-26) (rev. Robert Rønnes) [44.25]
Trond Sæverud (violin)
Stavanger Symphony Orchestra/Ole Kristian Ruud
rec. Stavanger. DDD
Volume 3 Bis Sæverud Series
BIS BIS-CD-872 [78.59]

The soloist in the Violin Concerto is Trond Sæverud the composer's grandson who premiered the Violin Concerto of Harald's son, Ketil Hvoslef in London with the RPO in 1992. Trond Sæverud has been the guiding hand behind the Sæverud celebrations and the steady renaissance in interest since the centenary in 1997. If you like the Berg concerto perhaps re-imagined with voices from Leifs, Frankel and Hartmann then this is certainly for you.

While robust ears are needed for the rocky impacts and acid vituperation of the first movement the folk accents of the neo-Baxian finale make for an immediately accessible conclusion with a profusion of rapid-fire rhythmic devices and succulent lyrical content. The softer emotions are touched on in the middle movement.

The work was premiered in Bergen by André Gertler (he who so lovingly recorded the Hartmann for Supraphon) in 1962. It had been commissioned by the Library of Congress through the Koussevitsky Foundation. The 1950s saw an upsurge of interest in Sæverud in the USA with Roy Harris's Pittsburgh festival sponsoring a choral work in 1952 and the Minnesota Orchestra later commissioning the Eighth Symphony.

The earliest work included in these four discs is the Third Symphony. It also happens to be the longest at almost three quarters of an hour. The Symphony, in three towering movements, was written in 1925-26 including material dating back to 1916. The composer promoted the work to Monteux for an Amsterdam premiere but that was not to be; the composer himself conducted it in Bergen (the scene of so many Sæverud premieres) on 25 February 1932. He had conducted the Second there in 1923. This contrasts with the history of his First Symphony, a prentice work which incredibly was premiered by the Berlin Phil while Sæverud was still a student in the German capital.

There is a long and morose, though always transparently clear, introduction. Sæverud then introduces a light-heartedly playful bucolic passage in which hiccuping woodwind play in a benevolent shadow of the skittering woodwind in Berlioz's Marche au Supplice. The long and concentrated andante with a hint of Hindemith and tortured expressionism about it once again voices the woodwind as the humanising agency. The allegro molto blasts along in tumultuous conflict but manages to find some seared humour among the bracken and blasted charcoal. It ends in an explosively Beethovenian stomp.

The Symphony has some warm though not idyllic writing. Its objectivity leaves no room for Nordic romanticism. Rønnes' performing edition is used. This carries the authority of association and discussion between Rønnes and the composer. The original version carries a 'Not to be used' injunction from the composer.

Two works then: the early and sometimes expressionistic Third Symphony's Germanic power contrasting with the substantial Violin Concerto - a work the accessibility of which is belied by the impression created by parts of the Leifs-like first movement.

Superbly documented and recorded consistent with the Bis house standard.

Rob Barnett



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