One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider


.
La Mer Ticciati

Eriks EŠENVALDS

Detlev GLANERT

Jaw-dropping

simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin


Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive


Cantatas for Soprano

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

David Monrad JOHANSEN (1888-1974)
Kværn-Slått, Norsk Humoreske (pub. 1912) [3:01]
Nordlandsbilleder, Suite for piano, op. 5 (1918-19) [10:27]
To portretter fra middelalderen, Suite for piano, op. 8 (1918-19, 1922) [8:09]
Fra Gudbrandsdalen, Suite for piano, op. 9 (1922) [18:35]
Prillar-Guri, Suite for piano, op. 12 (1924) [11:09]
Nordlandske Danser, (Danser fra Vefsn og Hattfjelldal) op. 30 [8:03]
Rune Alver (piano)
rec. 11-14 May 2015, Sofienberg Church, Oslo
LAWO CLASSICS LWC1101 [59:39]

I have to admit never having heard of Norwegian composer David Monrad Johansen, but that made listening to this recording all the more interesting. Born into a large but fragile family, Johansen was one of only a few of the children to survive into adulthood, and his father died when he was only six years old. Being moved from his childhood home in Helgeland to Kristiana (Oslo) in 1904 resulted in feelings of longing “that became the artistic driving force throughout his life.”

Johansen was a skilled pianist, and his technical prowess shines through in the pieces on this recording. This is immediately apparent in the striking Nordlandsbilleder, already a huge contrast with the folk-style of the very early Norsk Humoreske which opens the programme. If you were expecting something akin to Grieg you will need to think again. Johansen was absorbing the influence of Debussy, but Nordlandsbilleder is by no means a slavish imitation. Folk inflections can still be traced, but there is a chill melancholy as well which creates a strong and individual atmosphere.

The same can be said of the To portretter fra middelalderen, from the same period, the folk-origins of which are so well hidden in the first of the two pieces that you would be unlikely to make the association without prompting. This mysterious piece contrasts with a more rhythmic second movement on the more robust theme of trolls. The booklet notes are very helpful in outlining the narratives for these and other pieces with traditional origins. Fra Gudbrandsdalen, is more direct in this regard, its melodies representing “a little piece of Maihaugen in music which would, he hoped, evoke everyday life and customs of the Valley.” Some of these pieces are highly evocative, with a feel of mist in the still air and a silence broken only by distant and indistinct sounds of nature. There are also lively dances, a feature shared with Prillar-Guri, though the animated and increasingly distilled nature of this music is darkened in its outer movements by an association with the Battle of Kringen of 1612, Prillar-Guri being a legendary woman who blew a ram’s horn to signal and distract the invading Scottish soldiers.

The Nordlandske Danser are arrangements of traditional pieces recorded in the field by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation in the 1950s. These are five dance melodies from Vefsn and Hattfjelldal “freely adapted for piano” as the composer described them in their printed form. The tunes and rhythms are entirely clear, though also entirely idiomatic for piano: “From Traditional Music to Art Music” as was the name of the radio programme on which they were intended for broadcast.

Superbly performed by Norwegian pianist Rune Alver and captured on an equally fine recording, this release reveals a composer who should be better known beyond his native land. There is a fertile imagination behind even the more simple pieces here, and the further reaching music casts an entirely magical spell that shouldn’t be missed by piano enthusiasts and listeners who find themselves drawn towards the clear and liquid air of northern Europe.

Dominy Clements
 


 

 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger