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Norwegian Piano Music
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Sunfair and the Snake King No. 12 of 25 Norwegian Folksongs and Folkdances Op.17 [2:01]
Klaus EGGE (1906-1979)
* Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 21 for piano and string orchestra (Symphonic Variations and Fugue on a Norwegian Folktune) (1944) [20:01]
Halling Fantasy No. 1 of Three Pieces Op.12 (1939) [4:35]
Piano Sonata No. 1 Op. 4 The Dream Ballad (1933) [22:29]
Sverre BERGH (1915-1980)
Norwegian Dance No. 2 Old Holin (1944) [2:41]
Alf HURUM (1882-1972)
Aquarelles Op. 5 No. 2 Miniature (1912) [2:23]
Geirr TVEITT (1908-1981)
Wedding Bells (1963) [3:05]
Håvard Gimse (piano)
Trondheim Soloists/Øyvind Gimse*
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, UK, 7-8 April 2005, except for Egge Piano Concerto: Olavshallen, Trondheim, Norway, 27 October 2005. DDD
NAXOS 8.557834 [57:15]


Norwegian pianist Håvard Gimse has established his credentials in this kind of repertoire with several well-received discs of Sibelius and Tveitt for Naxos and Marco Polo. Here the focus is on folk-inspired music, particularly by his fairly obscure compatriot from Telemark, Klaus Egge. The short piece of solo Grieg which opens the disc is a logical prelude because it is based on the same folk tune which underpins the Piano Concerto. This was sourced from Telemark and originally “collected” by Lindeman in 1858. The concerto is in a single movement with seven variations followed by a cadenza and a fugue to finish. It is rhapsodic in feeling within an idiom which is broadly late-romantic. Gimse’s playing is strikingly lucid and the light string accompaniment blends in well under the direction of Håvard’s brother Øyvind Gimse who leads the Trondheim Soloists from the ‘cello. This will certainly be enjoyed by anyone who warms to the Tveitt concertos.

Next comes the Halling Fantasy, a folk-fiddle inspired work which could easily be mistaken for Grieg. Egge’s First Piano Sonata pre-dates the second concerto by a decade and was apparently his “breakthrough” work. Conventionally structured in four movements it is also based on traditional Norwegian melodies. There is a slow introduction to the first movement which contains the three main tunes. The extended second movement adagio is deeply-felt before the brief but demoniac “scherzo inferno” leads directly into an often contrapuntal finale.

The three brief pieces which conclude the disc are all easy on the ear and, in the case of the Tveitt, a world première recording. Apparently he jotted down the work in about half an hour outside a church before a wedding and gave it to the bride Ragnahild Nordsjø. She was moved to dig it out quite recently when she came across Gimse’s recording of Tveitt’s solo piano music.

The documentation focuses mainly on the derivation of the music and is fine as far as it goes. For a composer as obscure as Egge it would have been useful to have a little more information about his life and other music. I suppose it is easy enough to find such information through Google – for example from the Music Information Centre of Norway. This indicates some facts I found a little surprising – Egge studied with Fartein Valen and adopted twelve note techniques later on in life. Apparently he wrote five symphonies and five concertos – three for piano and one each for violin and cello.

With an interesting, attractive and well-recorded programme, this is another highly recommendable disc from Håvard Gimse.

Patrick C Waller 



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