Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Geirr Tveitt - Concertos for Hardanger Fiddle; Nykken (Arve Moen Bergset; Ole Kristian Ruud)


Composer: Geirr Tveitt
  1. Concerto for Hardanger fiddle & orchestra No. 1, Op. 163: I. Allegretto
  2. Concerto for Hardanger fiddle & orchestra No. 1, Op. 163: II. Andante
  3. Concerto for Hardanger fiddle & orchestra No. 1, Op. 163: III. Allegro moderato
  4. Concerto for Hardanger fiddle & orchestra No. 2 "Three Fjords", Op. 252: I. Hardangerfjord
  5. Concerto for Hardanger fiddle & orchestra No. 2 "Three Fjords", Op. 252: II. Sognefjord
  6. Concerto for Hardanger fiddle & orchestra No. 2 "Three Fjords", Op. 252: III. Nordfjord
  7. Nykken, symphonic painting for orchestra, Op. 187

Arve Moen Bergset, Hardanger fiddle (1-6)
Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
Ole Kristian Ruud, conductor

Date: 2002
Label: BIS




The Hardanger fiddle resembles its ancestor the viola d’amore in that it has a course of resonating strings under the fingerboard, and this gives the otherwise thin-toned instrument a certain huskiness that sounds oddly compelling. Of course, it helps that Geirr Tveitt composed two terrific concertos for this folk fiddle. The first, dating from 1955, is quite a substantial piece (nearly half an hour long), and as might be expected the music takes traditional Norwegian melodies as its starting point–but like Bartók Tveitt integrates the idiom into a contemporary musical language. It’s a lovely work, one that consistently engages the ear and skillfully contrasts solo episodes with evocative and powerful passages for full orchestra. The second concerto, from a decade later, has three movements named for three famous fjords. Tveitt marks the slow movement “Danza determinata e lenta”, and “determined” is the quality that comes most readily to mind in this compact (less than 20 minutes), tuneful, and purposeful piece. Soloist Arve Moen Bergset plays both concertos with the necessary verve and gutsy enthusiasm, and Ole Ruud supports him confidently.

Nykken, subtitled a “symphonic painting for orchestra”, tells the story of a mischievous water sprite who takes the form of a white horse, lures a young man onto its back, and then takes him on a wild ride that culminates in a deadly plunge back into its native pond. The music is extremely colorful and quite graphic, making the story easy to follow and one heck of a good time too. There’s an excellent earlier recording of this piece on Simax, but the differences between the two aren’t really significant. Anyone who has recently been turned on to Tveitt as a result of the wealth of attention he has been getting from Naxos and BIS needs no further urging from me. This is marvelous music, marvelously played and recorded.

-- David HurwitzClassicsToday

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Geirr Tveitt, born Nils Tveit (October 19, 1908 – February 1, 1981) was a Norwegian composer and pianist. Tveitt was a central figure of the national movement in Norwegian cultural life during the 1930s. His music draws from many styles and traditions, most notably Stravinsky, Bartók, Debussy and Ravel, always underpinned by idioms derived from Norwegian folk-music. In 1970, Tveitt's house in Kvam was burned to the ground, with almost 300 opuses of his manuscripts. 80% of Tveitt's production was gone forever. Most of Tveitt's remaining music is now commercially available on records.


Arve Moen Bergset (born 13 March 1972 in Sandnessjøen) is a Norwegian folk singer, hardanger fiddler, and classical violinist. Bergset is a member of Bukkene Bruse, a Norwegian folk music group, for whom he sings and plays the violin. Parallel to his folk music career, he is a classical musician, educated at the Norwegian Academy of Music. He has played with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and is since 2003 employed as a violinist in the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Bergset also performs with his wife, pianist Gudrun Skretting.


Ole Kristian Ruud (born 2 October 1958, Lillestrøm) is a Norwegian conductor. He studied clarinet with Richard Kjelstrup at the Norwegian Academy of Music, and studied conducting at the Sibelius Academy. Ruud was principal conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra and Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. He has been professor of conducting at the Norwegian Academy of Music since 1999. In 2005, he completed recording the complete orchestral works of Grieg with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, for BIS records.


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