Notes and Editorial Reviews
LAWO 1044 (59:13)
Sonata for Strings.
Here is a real
winner. It begins with still another recording of that ubiquitous
, 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
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
readers probably don’t need another
, 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
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
. Last and certainly not least is the
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
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
Works on This Recording
Elegiac Melody by Odd Gruner-Hegge
Period: 20th Century
Written: by 1943; Norway
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