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Ensemble Allegria

Ensemble Allegria
Release Date: 10/08/2013 
Label:  Lawo Classics   Catalog #: 1044   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Edvard GriegJohan KvandalOdd Gruner-HeggeKnut Nystedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Allegria
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ENSEMBLE ALLEGRIA Ens Allegria LAWO 1044 (59:13)

GRIEG Holberg Suite. KVANDAL Sonata for Strings. GRÜNER-HEGGE Elegiac Melody for Strings. NYSTEDT Concerto arctandriae for Strings

Here is a real Read more winner. It begins with still another recording of that ubiquitous Holberg Suite , but it commands attention in its superb performance by the Ensemble Allegria, an 18-piece Norwegian string orchestra. Razor-sharp attacks, a huge dynamic range, tremendous energy, and a somewhat steely but totally unified sound gives Allegria a decided edge in the crowded market for Holberg Suite s. I suspect this work was included to give some consumer recognition in what is otherwise a program of obscure (at least to non-Norwegians) 20th-century works. Most Fanfare readers probably don’t need another Holberg Suite , but I can enthusiastically recommend everything on the program.

Once past the Grieg work, the opening of Johan Kvandal’s Sonata for Strings will knock your socks off, both for its astringent violence and for the powerful thrust with which the Allegria puts it over. Thereafter we encounter granitic blocks of sound—dark, gray, grim sonorities that capture all the depressing loneliness of a wintry Scandinavian landscape. Odd Grüner-Hegge’s Elegiac Melody comes right out of the sorrowful yet restrained musical soil that produced Sibelius’s Swan of Tuonela and “The Death of Åse” in Grieg’s Peer Gynt . Last and certainly not least is the Concerto arctandrie of Knut Nystedt (born in 1915 and, as of this writing, still alive and heading for his 99th birthday in September). The four movements are highly contrasted, the most memorable of them written in a ferocious sempre pizzicato.

My only complaint about this production is the lack of program notes. Plenty of space was found for self-congratulatory blather, but not a word about these wonderful compositions. Pity.

FANFARE: Robert Markow
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Works on This Recording

From Holberg's Time, Op. 40 by Edvard Grieg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Allegria
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; Norway 
Sonata for Strings, Op. 79 by Johan Kvandal
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Allegria
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; Norway 
Elegiac Melody by Odd Gruner-Hegge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Allegria
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1943; Norway 
Concerto Arctandriae, Op. 128 by Knut Nystedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Allegria
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Norway 

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