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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Geirr Tveitt - Prillar; Sun God Symphony (Ole Kristian Ruud)


Composer: Geirr Tveitt
  1. Prillar, Op. 8: I. Schnell (Snøggt)
  2. Prillar, Op. 8: II. Langsam (Seint)
  3. Prillar, Op. 8: III. Schnell (Snøggt)
  4. Solgud-symfonien, Op. 81: I. Gudane gløymer mistelteinen (The Gods Forget the Mistletoe)
  5. Solgud-symfonien, Op. 81: II. Baldurs bålferd (Baldur's Bonfire Journey)
  6. Solgud-symfonien, Op. 81: III. Dansen i pileregnet (Arrow Dance)

Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
Ole Kristian Ruud, conductor
Date: 2001
Label: BIS




Geirr Tveitt (1908-81), one of Norway's most distinguished 20th century composers of the Romantic Nationalist school, suffered the most horrible tragedy than can befall an artist: His manuscripts, most of them unpublished, were burnt in a fire at his home in 1970. A hugely prolific composer, only a fraction of his output remained, and as can well be imagined he died believing most of his life's work had been destroyed. Recently, however, spare copies of various works, broadcast recordings, sketches, manuscript fragments, and other archival sources have surfaced, permitting a larger number of pieces than was ever thought possible to be reconstructed and performed. This splendid disc contains two such.

Prillar (the title refers to traditional horn melodies) survived the general holocaust because the composer, despairing of actually getting together a performance of this large, early work, tore it up and stuffed the scraps in a bag and then forgot all about it. The music certainly was worth reconstructing. It's something of a mystery how the composer manages to sustain three movements and 37 minutes of repetitious, non-developing folk melody, but he pulls it off with a virtuosity and charm that would leave many a modern minimalist awe-struck with admiration. Part of the secret stems from the succession of eventfully scored rhythmic ostinatos that accompany the tunes, which are themselves instantly memorable and perpetually fresh. In short, the piece has all the abundant vigor and confidence of youth, and represents a major addition to the far too limited fund of 20th century Norwegian symphonic music on disc.

The Sun-God Symphony (1958) actually consists of a suite of three pieces from a projected ballet called Baldur's Dreams (the subject, from the old Norse Sagas, also inspired Icelandic composer Jon Leifs). Two recordings plus sketches and burned fragments of the work survived, permitting this reconstruction. It's clear that Tveitt's orchestral mastery had grown since Prillar (1931), taking in French influences--Ravel especially. In this respect he closely resembles his almost exact contemporary, Finland's Uuno Klami, both in his use of folk-inflected melody as well as in the luminosity of his scoring. Beginning with a calm prelude, the music works its way through the ensuing two movements to a marvelously frenzied climax leading to an abrupt ending, representing Baldur's death.

The Stavanger Symphony Orchestra under Ole Kristian Ruud plays this music magnificently. In particular, it does wonders sustaining the energy level of Prillar at the necessary fever pitch throughout its lengthy, fast outer movements. I can't imagine a more enjoyable introduction to this fine composer, and the BIS recording maintains the high standards of the house. This disc is the second in what I hope will be long series. For more information on Tveitt, including a catalog of his works in print, you can visit the Norwegian Music Information Center website at www.mic.no.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:


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.


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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  2. thank you very much for everything!

  3. Sincerest thanks for making possible the discovery of much great music and so expanding my love of the art. All strength to you and hope the new year is kind.

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