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Edvard GRIEG (1843 - 1907)
Morning Mood (1857)
In the Hall of the Mountain King (1854)
Norwegian Dance No. 2 Op. 35 (1861)
Two Elegiac Melodies, Op. 34 No.2: Last Spring (1900)
Christian SINDING (1856 - 1941)

Six Pieces for pianoforte, Op. 32 – Rustle of Spring
Agathe BACKER-GRØNDAHL (1847 - 1907)

Fantasy Pieces, Op. 45, Summer Song
Johan SVENDSEN (1840 - 1911)

The Wedding at Dovre

Norwegian Artist’s Carnival, Op. 14
Festive polonaise Op. 12
Johannes HANSSEN (1874 - 1967)

Valdres - Marsch
Johan HALVORSEN (1864 - 1935)

Entry of the Boyars

Ole OLSEN (1850 - 1927)

Funeral March Op. 41
Rikard NORDRAAK (1842 - 1866)

Maria Stuart arr. HALVORSEN Purpose and Valse Caprice
Sigurd ISLANDSMOEN (1881 - 1964)

Forest Clearing Op. 15
Arne EGGEN (1881 - 1955)

Liti Kersti Suite – Bjorgulv the Fiddler
Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Bjarte Engeset.
recorded in the Hall of the ISO, Reykjavik, Iceland 18th – 21st June 2002 DDD
NAXOS 8.557017 [68’04"]

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra must have spent a very happy four days recording this disc during the summer of 2002. It is a lovely mix of very popular (excerpts from Grieg’s Peer Gynt, also his Norwegian Dance No. 2 and Last Spring, Sinding – The Rustle of Spring, Halvorsen – Entry of the Boyars etc.) and the relatively unknown: works by Eggen, Backer-Grøndahl, Hanssen, Islandmoen, Nordraak and Olsen.

This is presumably a companion disc to those which Naxos has been issuing over the years, notably Orchestral Favourites from Finland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain and Sweden (2 discs). Each brings together both well known and unknown pieces alike to give the listener a flavour of some of the orchestral miniatures available for consumption from each country. I believe the first of these was the disc from Hungary, and this has been a best seller in the Naxos catalogue for a number of years.

This disc is a welcome light orchestral disc, concentrating on Norwegian composers’ mainly turn-of-the-century, tonal and tuneful pieces – a very successful mix, and it deserves to do well. The performances of the well known pieces are eminently suitable for the format without knocking conductors like Karajan and Beecham off their perches for this repertoire. However, neither of these conductors ever gave us a compendium like this so there is no direct competition.

The pieces average 4˝ minutes each so even if you don’t like one or two, there is no big problem. The Naxos recording is clear and truthful, in the best house style, and the playing of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra is first class, with no shortcomings at all. Very highly recommended.

John Phillips

see also review by Jonathan Woolf

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