The title of this stupendously successful collection--Norwegian Classical Favorites 2--is wildly inappropriate: "Barely Known Norwegian Classical Music" might be more apt, but I can think of several others even more accurate. For example, Saeverud's The Devil's Five-Hop and Hymn against the Boyg alongside Halvorsen's Entry of the Trolls into the Blue Mountain and Dance of the Little Trolls could anchor "Popular Norwegian Classics about Monsters and Satan". Edvard Fliflet's Out Towards the Sea and Fartein Valen's The Churchyard by the Sea obviously suggest a new compilation: "Norway's Most Revered Classical Music about Water". Change the last two words of this title toRead more "about Liquids" and you can add Geirr Tveitt's delicious Hardanger Ale. The Valen piece also clearly belongs in "Popular Norwegian Light Atonal Greatest Hits".
Saeverud's Mixed Company (like the previous two numbers, taken from his dis-Griegian Peer Gynt music) deserves pride of place in Volume 6 of "Norwegian Classical Hits Ironically Quoting National Anthems and Songs from Lots of Other Countries". Gjerstrom's Legend, Groven's At Evening, and Irgens-Jensens' gorgeous Bol's Song suggest "Obscure Norwegian Music for Quiet Listening", while Sommerfelt's Little Overture and Groven's Hjalarljod Overture could have starring roles in, you guessed it, "Unbelievably Famous Norwegian Light Overtures". Now that we've flogged this particular point to death (and speaking of "Beloved Norwegian Classics about Flogging and Other Forms of Torture and Oppression", did I mention Saeverud's The Ballad of Revolt?) it only remains to point out that all of the music here is terrific and well worth hearing, and the performances are outstanding by any standard.
Conductor Bjarte Engeset characterizes to the hilt this colorful assortment of pieces. He raises the roof in the big numbers, with the Iceland Symphony playing its collective heart out, and savors every juicy bit of the more lyrical items. Best of all, Naxos' sonics are sensationally vivid, warmly natural, and just plain thrilling. Yes, the title may be silly, but the music-making most definitely is not, and you won't find a more enjoyable and enterprising CD of excellent small pieces on any label at any price. I can hardly wait for Volume 3, and can't even imagine what might be on it--but may I suggest changing the title to "Norwegian Miniature Classics That No One, Including Most Norwegians, Probably Even Knew Existed but Will Definitely Be Happy to Encounter"? That's more the ticket, I should think. [6/17/2004]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Excellent 20th Century Norwegian Orchestral WorksJuly 21, 2014By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"Short orchestral selections from nine separate Norwegian composers are presented here in a very imaginative and attractive program, and Edvard Grieg is nowhere to be seen (or heard)! Thus, here is a splendid opportunity to sample the compositional styles of such 20th century composers as Harald Saeverud, Gveir Tveitt, Eyvin Groven, Edvard Braein, Gunnar Gjerstrom, Oystein Sommerfeldt, Ludvig Irgens-Jensen, Fartain Valen, and Johan Halvorsen. If this list draws a blank with you, don't worry and don't let that stop you from considering this recording- the music is wonderfully atmospheric, varying in rhythms, tempos, textures, and intensities. Some tracks are light-hearted and humorous, others are lyrically introspective and passionate, while still others display a carefree Scandinavian boisterousness. There are a couple of 'outliers,' which really make you sit up and take notice. First, there is a strongly stated piece by Harald Saeverud, The Ballad of Revolt, which gives the impression of a massive primeval groan or scream of anger from the depths of Norway's soul as it was put to the test by foreign occupation in World War 2. Then there is the eerie, mysterious, almost atonal style of Fartein Valen in his quite well known Churchyard by the Sea. Both of these intriguing works provide a definite and worthwhile change of pace from the rest of the program, and I for one found them to be excellent choices. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra delivers a sharp, first class performance under conductor Bjarte Engeset, and the sound quality of the disk is excellent. In short, an extremely varied compilation of superior quality from the north of Europe. Enthusiastically recommended all the way!"Report Abuse
Variety and Quality Impress!October 20, 2013By bess holloway (Boulder, CO)See All My Reviews"If you wanted to surprise and impress someone of Norwegian heritage, this is the top choice. Make that anyone who enjoys great orchestral music. It would be a blessing if American orchestras were to pick up any of the selections offered here. Do yourself and a few friends a favor with this delightful recording."Report Abuse