Johan Halvorsen is one of those composers whose music will have you asking why it’s not part of the standard repertoire. It’s that good. His Third Symphony is a pithy, three-movement work lasting a bit less than half an hour, full of good tunes, immaculately crafted and luminously scored. You can’t dislike it. Black Swan, the Wedding March, and the Wedding of Ravens in the Grove of the Crows are delightful miniatures. Norwegian music seems to be full of bridal marches, wedding processions, and the like, and it’s rather amazing that Halvorsen packs so much variety into what you might think would be an extremely restrictive genre. The incidental suites also have their share of wedding pieces. Read more
Speaking of which, Fossegrimen (another classic Norwegian-themed play featuring trolls and other mythological creatures) contains some marvelous music in the folk style, some real, some invented, including extensive writing for the Hardanger fiddle. This performance includes the Danse visionaire, an independent work dedicated to Halvorsen’s wife (Grieg’s niece) that was part of the original incidental music but was later replaced by a newly composed piece. It’s good to have it here.
Finally, Bergensiana, billed as “Rococo Variations on an Old Melody from Bergen”, offers more than meets the eye, or ear. The tune may be old, but the scoring is fully modern, even radical. There’s a prominent variation featuring xylophone and bassoon, while another is given to the mandolin. Since they happen to be placed next to each other, the sound sample below offers a taste of them both, and they seem to encapsulate the combination of good humor and exquisite craftsmanship characteristic of Halvorsen. As with previous releases in this series, the performances are as good as it gets, and so are the sonics. There is absolutely nothing to criticize about Neeme Järvi’s interpretations, the fine Bergen Philharmonic, or the engineers. It’s just 79 minutes of terrific music.
Fossegrimen Suite and Danse visionaireby Johan Halvorsen Performer:
Ragnhild Hemsing (Hardanger Fiddle)
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: Norway
Fantastic Recording!September 25, 2012By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"This disk is Vol.3 in a series of recordings of the orchestral music of Norwegian composer Johan Halvorsen, featuring the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under the leadership of conductor Neeme Jarvi. The two main works on this disk, Symphony #3 and a lengthy suite entitled Fossegrimen, are absolute stunners, full of Norwegian folk themes and brilliant orchestral color. Of particular note is the use of Hardangar fiddle as a solo instrument in Fossegrimen, resulting in an unusual and highly effective sonic blend with the orchestra. Likewise, the 4 shorter works are outstanding, Norwegian Romanticism par excellence. Everything about this disk screams for attention- the excellence of the orchestra, soloists, and conductor, plus Chandos' usual brilliant sound. Do give this recording a try- it's a real winner! Highly recommended."Report Abuse