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I Dovregubbens hall/In the Hall of the Mountain King
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 (1874)
1 Morning Mood [3:58]
2 The Death of Aase [3:52]
3 Anitra’s Dance [3:42]
4 In the Hall of the Mountain King [2:45]
5 Last Spring [5:42]
6 Norwegian Dance No. 2 [2:29]
Johan SVENDSEN (1840-1911)
7 Polonaise [8:37]
8 Variations on a Norwegian Folk Tune [6:29]
Halfdan KJERULF (1815 -1868)
9 The Wedding in Hardanger [2:57]
Ole BULL (1810-1880)
10 Solitude [3:07]
Rikard NORDRAAK (1842-1886)
from “Maria Stuart”
11 Purpose [4:01]
12 Valse Caprice [2:20]
13 Olav Trygvasson [2:58]
Johan HALVORSEN (1864-1935)
14 Entry of the Boyars [5:06]
15 Danse Visionaire [7:51]
Johan SVENDSEN (1840-1911)
16 Norwegian Artists’ Carnival [6:46]
Rikard NORDRAAK (1842-1886)
17 National Anthem (1864) [1:12]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Per Dreier
rec. All Saint’s Church, Tooting, London, 1989
previously released as ARCD 1938. DDD
PRO MUSICA PPC 9056 [74:23]

This is a rather tasteful anthology of Norwegian Romanticism from the latter part of the nineteenth century, centered around Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 and Norwegian Dance No. 2.  What follows on this disc are samplings of the music of Grieg’s peers and students.  Some of the composers gathered here are more famous – or more well-known – than others.  Svendsen and Halvorsen are perhaps the second-tier of Norwegian composers beneath Grieg but were highly influential in their own right.  Less well-known are Ole Bull who was a concert violinist and has a village in Pennsylvania named after him (Oleona, Pa) and Halfdan Kjerulf whose fame rests on several dozen partsongs.
The music is quite delightful, performed with obvious affection by Per Dreier and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  The sound is lush – appropriate for this kind of romanticism – but not glaring or dynamic.  This is due to the fact that much of this music is structured around waltzes or simple folk dances.
As a pure listening experience, this disc reveals one curiosity:  no-one here seems to be copying anybody – by that I mean copying Grieg – and they also don’t seem to be copying anybody in Germany at that time, and by that I mean Schumann, Brahms, then Wagner.  Germany so dominated European Romanticism throughout the nineteenth century that it was nearly impossible to avoid it.  Even the British and the Russians were influenced heavily by the great German Romantics.  They seem content to rely upon their own folk sources rather than those of Germany.
Nonetheless, the music that is here is distinct and would be a happy addition to any collection that is weak on Norwegian music of any era.  The element that recommends this disc is really the works by the other composers rather than the Grieg.  Grieg has been done to death, whereas the other composers here have not and deserve to be better known.  Recommended as an excellent starter for 19th century Norwegian music.
Paul Cook


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