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Barry Kilpatrick
American Record Guide, May 2009

Born in Bergen, Tveitt grew up in the shadow of Grieg and absorbed some of his style. Tveitt is also regarded as a Scandinavian Bartók (or Grainger) for collecting many folk songs and transforming them into imaginative concert music. Most were from the Hardanger District, and nine (from three Hardanger Suites) are included here. There is nothing hohum about them; they are extravagant and exciting. In 1962, Tveitt entered three works in a band-music competition, and all three won prizes. The five-movement Wind Sinfonietta was the winner, with the gentle and rather touching ‘Det Gamle Kvernhuset’ (Old Mill on the Brook) second movement and the rousing ‘Hymne til Fridomen’ (Hymn to Freedom) third.

None of these works are in the same league, though, as a three-movement Wind Symphony (1974) that could pass for a film noir sound track. A noble I is tinged by melancholy, II is a lively march, and the somber III has dark and sensuous sounds that become increasingly agitated.

This fascinating and dramatic music, played by an outstanding band, makes for an hour of terrific listening.



Ronald E Grames
Fanfare, May 2009

Geirr Tveitt is one of Norwegian music’s best kept secrets…To its credit, Naxos has already issued much Tveitt, including the complete orchestral Hundert Volksmelodien aus Hardanger, op. 151, two volumes of solo piano works and the four remaining Piano Concertos.[See his biography page]

Tveitt could certainly orchestrate and his works are full of marvellous twists and turns of colour and the variety of sounds on his palette is large. He was also a composer who could respond to what we call the military or wind band. The two big works here—Sinfonietta di Soffiatori and Sinfonia di Soffiatori—might be short in playing time but they inhabit a world where the big gesture is to the fore. He exploits both the large harmonious sound of the full band but never forgets just how delicate the same forces can be when necessary. The earlier Sinfonietta di Soffiatori is a very strong piece—together with Det gamle Kvernhuset and Hymne til Fridomen Tveitt entered it in a competition organized by the Norwegian Band Association and music publisher Tonika. He won 1st prize—for the Sinfonietta—2nd prize for Det gamle Kvernhuset and 3rd prize for Hymne til Fridomen!. The Sinfonietta is in five movements. Starting with an autumnal nocturne, this is followed by a beautifully quirky scherzo-like movement. The middle piece, titled Fanfara funebre, is a breezy thing on the surface but there’s some strange harmonic things going on underneath the supposed easiness of the music. Indeed, it starts to become quite dark as it progresses. Norwegian folk-music was never far from Tveitt’s thinking so for the penultimate movement we have a slightly lop-sided country dance, with some gorgeously simple orchestration. The final movement is no summing up, it’s quite nostalgic as it makes its gentle way to the conclusion. This is lovely with no problems; it’s just a simple, straight-forward, piece which is immediately accessible.

The later Sinfonia di Soffiatori was commissioned by the American St Olaf College Concert Band for their European tour in 1974. It’s a totally different kind of work, and has a part for the harp, which adds a nice extra tone colour to the ensemble. The alla Marcia, middle, movement has a fine build-up of sound and makes for a superb climax in the centre of the piece. The first movement is a very mellow countryside vision—beautiful use of clarinets and harp here. The final movement alternates between full ensemble, in some very striking music, and the most beautiful, and delicate, outpouring. After some of the turmoil earlier in the movement the ending is quite magical.

The arrangements of Hardanger folk tunes, for orchestra, contain some of Tveitt’s most imaginative orchestral thoughts. Many are quite deliciously, and intentionally, comic—just try track 17—Hardanger Ale —it’s not all there, in common parlance, just as if one had supped a few too many of the brew. Stig Nordhagen has done a good job in his transcriptions but I do miss the sound of the full orchestra here, the addition of strings makes all the difference.

The Royal Northern College of Music Wind Band has recorded both Det Gamle Kvernhuset and the Sinfonietta di Soffiatori on a CD (Chandos CHAN10038) coupled with other Nordic works for band by Rautavaara, Sallinen, Hugh Alfvén and Ole Schmidt. The Chandos is a good disk—if you have it keep hold of it—but these Naxos performances are much more idiomatic, and the direction is tighter. Fantastic sound, fabulous playing, excellent notes all make for a disk which is a necessity for every record shelf.



Bob Briggs
MusicWeb International, April 2009

Geirr Tveitt is one of Norwegian music’s best kept secrets…To its credit, Naxos has already issued much Tveitt, including the complete orchestral Hundert Volksmelodien aus Hardanger, op. 151, two volumes of solo piano works and the four remaining Piano Concertos.[See his biography page]

Tveitt could certainly orchestrate and his works are full of marvellous twists and turns of colour and the variety of sounds on his palette is large. He was also a composer who could respond to what we call the military or wind band. The two big works here—Sinfonietta di Soffiatori and Sinfonia di Soffiatori—might be short in playing time but they inhabit a world where the big gesture is to the fore. He exploits both the large harmonious sound of the full band but never forgets just how delicate the same forces can be when necessary. The earlier Sinfonietta di Soffiatori is a very strong piece—together with Det gamle Kvernhuset and Hymne til Fridomen Tveitt entered it in a competition organized by the Norwegian Band Association and music publisher Tonika. He won 1st prize—for the Sinfonietta—2nd prize for Det gamle Kvernhuset and 3rd prize for Hymne til Fridomen!. The Sinfonietta is in five movements. Starting with an autumnal nocturne, this is followed by a beautifully quirky scherzo-like movement. The middle piece, titled Fanfara funebre, is a breezy thing on the surface but there’s some strange harmonic things going on underneath the supposed easiness of the music. Indeed, it starts to become quite dark as it progresses. Norwegian folk-music was never far from Tveitt’s thinking so for the penultimate movement we have a slightly lop-sided country dance, with some gorgeously simple orchestration. The final movement is no summing up, it’s quite nostalgic as it makes its gentle way to the conclusion. This is lovely with no problems; it’s just a simple, straight-forward, piece which is immediately accessible.

The later Sinfonia di Soffiatori was commissioned by the American St Olaf College Concert Band for their European tour in 1974. It’s a totally different kind of work, and has a part for the harp, which adds a nice extra tone colour to the ensemble. The alla Marcia, middle, movement has a fine build-up of sound and makes for a superb climax in the centre of the piece. The first movement is a very mellow countryside vision—beautiful use of clarinets and harp here. The final movement alternates between full ensemble, in some very striking music, and the most beautiful, and delicate, outpouring. After some of the turmoil earlier in the movement the ending is quite magical.

The arrangements of Hardanger folk tunes, for orchestra, contain some of Tveitt’s most imaginative orchestral thoughts. Many are quite deliciously, and intentionally, comic—just try track 17—Hardanger Ale —it’s not all there, in common parlance, just as if one had supped a few too many of the brew. Stig Nordhagen has done a good job in his transcriptions but I do miss the sound of the full orchestra here, the addition of strings makes all the difference.

The Royal Northern College of Music Wind Band has recorded both Det Gamle Kvernhuset and the Sinfonietta di Soffiatori on a CD (Chandos CHAN10038) coupled with other Nordic works for band by Rautavaara, Sallinen, Hugh Alfvén and Ole Schmidt. The Chandos is a good disk—if you have it keep hold of it—but these Naxos performances are much more idiomatic, and the direction is tighter. Fantastic sound, fabulous playing, excellent notes all make for a disk which is a necessity for every record shelf.



Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, April 2009

This present disc is the first complete edition of his music for wind instruments and the result is overwhelming—for two reasons. The music in itself is as personal as anything else Tveitt wrote and the playing by The Royal Norwegian Navy Band is stunning. The overall effect is enhanced by the spacious acoustics of the Tønsberg Domkirke and by a superlative recording. The venue is a tall building in red brick seating 550 persons. It seems to be an ideal venue—at least for wind music. The Royal Norwegian Navy Band consists of 29 professional players. For this occasion they brought in double-basses and a harp.

Geirr Tveitt regarded himself as practically an amateur in the wind-music genre. He said: ‘I believe I have somewhat better knowledge of symphony orchestras.’; be that as it may. Some of the music is no doubt thickly orchestrated, as Engeset also points out in his liner-notes. However, it has great impact and Tveitt also knew how to lighten the texture and achieve music of great lyric beauty.

As so often with Tveitt the music draws on rhythms and themes from the folk music of his native Hardanger. Whether the themes are genuine or of his own invention matters little. What is important is that the result has a genuine ring, sounding Norwegian or, more specifically, Tveittian. The Sinfonia di Soffiatori (soffiatori according to my dictionary meaning glass-blowers) in three movements starts with a horn theme that breathes the air of ancient times—I associated the sound with bronze-age lurs. This is followed by jagged brass rhythms whereupon, by contrast, the woodwind enter with softer, more transparent sounds accompanied by the harp. The second movement is marked Alla Marcia and it marches all right—but with a dancing quality. The rhythm is the characteristic Halling. The concluding Andante is far from the calm amble one might expect. Instead parts of the movement are quite barbaric but this is redeemed by soft romantic harp chords and a glittering triangle…The Hundrad Hardingtonar first appeared as piano music. Later Tveitt arranged four orchestral suites, each containing fifteen movements. From suites 2, 4 and 5 (there’s no suite No. 3) Stig Nordhagen has chosen nine movements and transcribed them for wind band. These are fascinating pieces: entertaining, illustrative or just harmonically and melodically enticing. To gain a really deep understanding of the music the best idea is to start with the piano versions (they have all been recorded on Naxos by Håvard Gimse [Marco Polo 8.225055 & 8.225056]) and then move to the thematically linked orchestral suites (recorded on Naxos by Bjarte Engeset—Suites 2 & 5 on 8.555770 and 1 & 4 on 8.555078). The wind versions are unavoidably more straightforward and self-assertive but they are certainly entertaining. With playing of the calibre of The Royal Norwegian Navy Band they should be excellent additions to the band repertoire.

This disc gave me great pleasure. To be totally absorbed one needs to turn up the volume and be enclosed in the sound. I made the mistake of listening at high volume on headphones; this turned out to be too penetrative. I got a lot of thrilling orchestral detail but brass sound in particular should be heard at some distance.

The cover painting is part of a larger watercolour by Gyri Tveitt, Geirr’s and Tullemor’s daughter. It is entitled Hymn to Freedom and is inspired by Geirr Tveitt’s music and his way of painting. The handwritten score covering the mountain reproduced on the cover is from the manuscript of an early work called Prillar, which is a symphonic ode to nature and freedom. Gyri Tveitt writes about the symbolism of the painting in a note. David Gallagher gives a wider picture of Tveitt and his relation to folk music. Bjarte Engeset analyses the actual compositions on the disc.

Wind music enthusiasts will have a field-day with this disc. It should also be heard by everyone who has fallen under the spell of Geirr Tveitt’s highly personal writing.



David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2008

Forget any preconceived ideas you may have of music for wind instruments, the Norwegian composer, Geirr Tveitt, creating a completely new dimension that takes it right into the world of symphonic music. He had studied first in Leipzig, following in the footsteps of his compatriot, Grieg, but later moved to Paris where he took lessons from Honegger and Villa-Lobos. By his middle years he had become a major musical voice in Nordic circles, then tragedy struck and, at the age of 62, the larger part of his output was destroyed in a fire at his home. Few works by then had appeared in published form, and he drew on existing orchestral parts and other sources to try to rebuild his substantial output. Naxos has already issued part of that which was rescued, and now we have two major scores for wind, the Sinfonia di Soffiatori and Sinfonietta di Soffiatori. Though Tveitt claimed he was a mere beginner in such music, he used wind instruments as if working with the complete range of sounds from a conventional symphony orchestra. He does make demands on the performers, and many bands would struggle with both pieces. Here we have a superb ensemble, The Royal Norwegian Navy Band, under the direction of the much experienced orchestral conductor, Bjarte Engeset. They are totally at ease with such complex writing, the internal balance allowing so much detail. More formal marching band music comes in Prinds Christian Frederiks Honnormarch, Det gamle Kvernhuset and Hymne til Fridomen. The disc ends with sections from one of Tveitt’s monumental tasks of collecting a Hundred Hardanger Tunes, which he then shaped into four orchestral suites. Here, in arrangements by Stig Nordhagen, we have nine of those folk melodies. In the world of wind band music, this is in every way a milestone and is crowned by superbly engineered sound.






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7:17:02 AM, 18 December 2014
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