Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Halvorsen, Johan. (1864-1935) Orchestral Works Volume 2.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 26-10-2010.
Second listen: 5-4-2011.
Third listen: 29-3-2017.
Label: Chandos.
Recording dates: August/September 2009.
Recording venue: Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway.
Recording engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Running time: 75:50
Classical relevance to me: Essential. Reference performance.

Works performed: 
Suite Ancienne, opus 31a.
3 Norwegian Dances, for Violin and orchestra.
Air Norvégien. opus 7, for Violin and orchestra.
Veslemøy's Song.
Symphony No. 2, "Fatum", in D minor.

Performed by:
Marianne Thorsen, Violin.
Bergen PO, Neeme Järvi.

All works except the Symphony are elegant and refined works, well scored, brimful with memorable melodies, and perfectly fitting into the Norwegian idiom, with such representatives like Edvard Grieg, Johan Svendsen, and Christian Sinding. The content is picturesque, and aimable in its expression. This is what you typically expect and rightly so. However when confronted with the second symphony you can forget about all the things I wrote. For there you meet a composer of a very robust character, were a different kind of refinement is prevalent. It's scoring is also unusual in that it holds much more power, with an imagery that is pushing its ideas out in a rhythmically insistent way. The melodic ideas are bold too, as if no bars are in place, and the devil rides this wagon. It goes where the fancy takes him. Not afraid to open doors with some violence, and slamming them in the same fashion. In the sparse leisurely moments we have some magical colours, be it that this is also played with some orchestral power in place. The energy never stops. Reminds me of the slogan: "Angry young men". In the third movement there is some notion of this picturesque finery  as met in the other works, and the dialog between strings and winds is soothing. It has almost a Spring mood. The last movement shakes you out of this melodic high in a jiffy, and the composer enters with bold steps and lots of energy. It's a bloody marvelous work! The performance matches all requirements, and the recording is amazing in it's clarity and details. The acoustics of the Bergen hall tends to favour the lower regions of the orchestra, which means that you have to have very good equipment to keep it all in the picture. Bass heavy.
Nevertheless, recommended.

My playlist for 25-4-2018.

If by any chance you might be interested in my thoughts or feelings about the recordings of today, please let me know, and I will provide ad...