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Norwegian Classical Favourites Volume 2
Harald SÆVERUD (1897-1992)
Peer Gynt Music Op.28: (i) Devil’s Five-Hop (ii) Hymn against the Bøyg (iii) Mixed Company
Geirr TVEITT (1908-1981)
A Hundred Hardanger Tunes Op.151: (i) Welcome with Honour (ii) Langeleik Tune (iii) Hardanger Ale
Eyvind GROVEN (1901-1977)
At Evening Op.60
Hjalarljod Overture Op.38
Edvard Fliflet BRÆIN (1924-1976)
Out Towards the Sea
Gunnar GJERSTRØM (1891-1951)
Øystein SOMMERFELDT (1919-1994) Little Overture Op.11
Ludvig IRGENS-JENSEN (1894-1969)
Bol’s Song
Harald SÆVERUD (1897-1992)
The Ballad of the Revolt Op.22
Fartein VALEN (1887-1952)
The Churchyard by the Sea Op.20
Johan HALVORSEN (1864-1935)
Scenes from Norwegian Fairy Tales Op.37: II – The Princess Riding on the Bear; III- Entry of the Trolls into the Blue Mountain; IV- Dance of the Trolls
Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Bjarte Engeset
Recorded at the Concert Hall of the ISO Reykjavik, 18-21 and 24-28 June 2002
NAXOS 8.557018 [64.42]


Favourites might induce ennui but take a look at the track listing and you’ll be struggling to know many, if any, of Naxos’s second and very welcome volume devoted to Norwegian "Classics". Many of these pieces are taken from suites – such as Sæverud’s Peer Gynt Music or from Halvorsen’s Scenes from Norwegian Fairy Tales of which we have II, III and IV or from Tveitt’s monumental Hardanger tunes. Others still are overtures or descriptive works spanning the twentieth century (from Halvorsen, b. 1864 to Bræin, born in 1924). All are worthwhile, colourful and especially well orchestrated.

Sæverud’s Peer Gynt excerpts cover the extremes, opening with diablerie and roistering drive – wildly accented percussion to the fore – as well as a grave and powerful central Hymn and a so-called Mixed Company movement that demonstrates Peer’s wanderings and quotes liberally from La Marseillaise, Yankee Doodle and the Emperor’s Hymn. His slightly earlier The Ballad of Revolt is by contrast a much more powerful and concentrated utterance – opening with the darkening hour’s glower and slowly allowing an admixture of folk-like wind chanting before embarking on heavily rhythmic and driving writing. Tveitt’s Welcome with Honour from the Hardanger Tunes is a particularly translucent and beautiful example whilst Hardanger Ale is the opposite – a paraphrase of Ravel’s Bolero. I enjoyed the gentle archaisms of Groven’s At Evening as I did his earlier Hjalarljod Overture with its bold, brassy ceremonial contour – exciting and romantic. The hymnal is secure in the compositional hands of Edvard Bræin whose little three-minute piece is full of songful certainty whilst Gjerstrøm’s Legend has an impressive if old-fashioned romantic cantilever, enriched by the chorale-like solo trumpet that courses through it. Sommerfeldt has an Arnoldian cheekiness and has the nerve to end his Little Overture with some Egmont Overture reminiscences (at least that what it sounds like to me). Fartein Valen (1887-1952) writes an intensely evocative The Churchyard by the Sea – full of tense, uneasy and terse writing, mortality shrouded and philosophically apt. It delves into dark drama and proves to be auspiciously well orchestrated. No wonder international conductors queued up to play it. We end, as we began with some burlesque – Halvorsen in frivolous mood in his Norwegian Fairy Tales scenes.

As with the first volume the performances are warm and committed. They catch romance and turbulence with equal success and a modest financial outlay will secure both for your shelves, in perpetuity.

Jonathan Woolf

See also review by Patrick Waller

Review of Peer Gynt and other music by Sæverud:

Reviews of Naxos Tveitt discs of Hundred Hardanger tunes:


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