Johan Halvorsen spent most of his career writing for the theater, which is probably why his music sounds so effortless, colorful, and well, efficient. This isn't meant to be disparaging. Rather, all of these pieces get right to the point, and none outstays its welcome, not even the Second Symphony, which clocks in at a bit under half an hour. It's conservative, harmonically and formally, but the music really works--it's a pleasure from beginning to end, and wholly convincing. This performance also is the first to correct the zillion errors in the printed score that have gone a long way to preventing the work from entering the repertoire, where it surely belongs.
The other pieces are all, in one way or another, ostensibly Norwegian in sound in a manner quite similar to Grieg. Again, there's nothing wrong with that. What sane person dislikes Grieg? The Suite ancienne, to the memory of Holberg, has every bit as much charm and freshness as Grieg's Holberg Suite, while the other three pieces all feature solo violin. Marianne Thorsen plays splendidly, while Neeme Järvi leads his Bergen forces in performances that are graceful, vibrant, and in the Suite and the Symphony, the last word in impetuosity and excitement. With terrific sound, if you don't know this music, you're missing something special.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com