Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Geirr Tveitt - A Hundred Hardanger Tunes Suites Nos. 1 & 4 (Bjarte Engeset)


Composer: Geirr Tveitt
  • (01-15) 100 Hardanger Tunes, Op. 151, Suite No. 1
  • (16-30) 100 Hardanger Tunes, Op. 151, Suite No. 4 "Wedding Suite"

Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Bjarte Engeset, conductor
Date: 2001
Label: Naxos



Readers who have discovered previous releases of the Norwegian composer Geirr Tveitt’s music will need no recommendation to acquire this splendidly played new addition to his discography. These two suites are large collections of short movements (15 apiece)‚ brilliantly scored‚ of folk­like tunes and dances from Tveitt’s native region‚ although‚ as David Gallagher points out in his excellent accompanying essay‚ it is a highly moot point precisely where real folksong ended and Tveitt’s own invention began.

Several numbers appear in Marco Polo’s earlier piano discs of the 50 Folk Tunes from Hardanger; 3/98‚ 8/98)‚ but in these bolder guises they take on quite different characters. Several movements in the First Suite seem to share motivic connections (Tveitt‚ like Bartók and Szymanowski‚ wrote his own folk melodies at times‚ which bear family resemblances). The overall effect is of a set of variations‚ but on the concept of folk music rather than a single‚ picturesque tune. In the Fourth‚ Wedding‚ Suite (also known as ‘Nuptials’)‚ cross­connection‚ indeed integration‚ extends to the subject matter‚ the music describing a lively rustic courtship and wedding from the initial wooing to the wedding guests’ drunken jabberings (and some shattered crockery). Engeset’s new account is a delight from start to finish‚ revealing Tveitt’s delicate yet robust invention without a hint of the twee‚ though with a suggestion of Khachaturian in the finale.

The RSNO (remember Norway is as much their neighbour as Sassenach England) are on top form‚ and Naxos’s recording‚ engineered by Tim Handley‚ is excellent. Great fun‚ warmly recommended.

-- Guy RickardsGramophone

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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.


Bjarte Engeset (born 25 August 1958 in Ørsta) is a Norwegian classical conductor. He studied music at the University of Georgia, Grieg Akademiet in Norway, and Sibelius Academy in Finland. Engeset has been Music Director of Tromsø Symphony Orchestra and The Norwegian Wind Ensemble, artistic director of Northern Norway's Northern Lights Festival and the Opera Nord, and permanent guest conductor of the Flemish Radio Orchestra. Engeset has recorded several dozen CDs, for the Naxos, EMI and CPO labels. In particular, he has made many recordings of music by Scandinavian composers, such as Grieg, Sibelius and Tveitt.


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