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2.110274 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - NORWAY: A Musical Tour of Troldhaugen, Bergen and the Norwegian Landscape (NTSC)
A Musical Tour of Norway
The Norwegian landscape is one of considerable variety. In the countryside are lakes, rivers, gushing and spectacular waterfalls, fjords, and wooded hills, set against snow-capped mountains.
Music Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 – I. Allegro molto moderato
Born in 1843 in Bergen into a family of remoter Scottish paternal ancestry, Edvard Grieg came to represent the first great musical flowering of Norwegian nationalism, drawing inspiration from his own country, after earlier training in Leipzig. He coupled a career as a composer with that of a performer, continuing both activities until his death in 1907. His Piano Concerto, a work that enjoys enormous popularity, was written in 1868 during a holiday in Denmark. The concerto opens with a drum roll, leading to the entry of the solo piano, descending the keyboard, followed by a theme given first to the woodwind, repeated by the piano, which later introduces a second theme, suggested by the cellos. There is a central development section and the last part of the movement includes a rhapsodic cadenza.
Fjords, lakes, rivers and waterfalls mark the Norwegian landscape, with its looming rocky mountains and shimmering water.
Music Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 – II. Adagio
The second movement of the concerto shifts to the key of D flat major, bringing a feeling of respite from the tumult that had marked passages in the first movement. Here orchestra and soloist propose different melodies, with no sense of conflict.
Lowland meadows are used for crops and cattle, while everywhere there is water, whether in streams and rivers, impressive waterfalls or in the many fjords and lakes, to be explored by boat.
Music Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 – III. Allegro moderato molto e marcato – Quasi Presto – Andante maestoso
The third movement of the concerto is dominated by the rhythm of a Norwegian dance, the halling, in a movement that has a place for rhapsodic piano-writing and an impressive cadenza for the soloist.
Troldhaugen: Grieg’s House
In 1885 the house that Grieg and his wife had had built was completed. Very much of its period, it stands overlooking a lake, south of Bergen, and in the grounds is a wooden building where Grieg could work without distractions. The name chosen for the house, Troldhaugen, means Mountain of the Trolls, a reference to the original name of the place, Trolddalen, the Valley of the Trolls.
Music Grieg: Two Melodies, Op. 53 – I. Norwegian
Grieg’s Two Melodies, Op. 53, were arranged from songs. The first, Norwegian, originally had the title Fyremal (The Goal) and was written in 1880. The arrangement for string orchestra dates from 1890.
Troldhaugen: Grieg’s House
Grieg’s house at Troldhaugen remains much as he left it, its traditional woodwork a contrast to the characteristic furniture of the day. The rooms contain many relics of Grieg and his wife, the singer Nina Hagerup, Grieg’s first cousin.
Music Grieg: Two Melodies, Op. 53 – II. The First Meeting
The second of Grieg’s Two Melodies, The First Meeting is taken from a song written in 1870, a setting of a poem by Bjørnson.
Bergen, Grieg’s home-town, is the capital of West Norway and is built on seven hills. Its origin lies in its coast and harbour on the Puddefjord, from which, over the years, it has grown. Traditional houses are seen, particularly those rebuilt after the great fire of 1702 for the Hansaeatic trade that flourished there.
Music Grieg: Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, Op. 65, No. 6
The title Wedding Day at Troldhaugen replaced the original title of what was initially a piano piece, and perhaps recalls the occasion of the Griegs’ silver wedding there in 1892.
Boats are moored at Bergen’s busy waterside. The Hanseatic merchants’ houses on the Bryggen are seen, and the well-stocked fish market.
Music Grieg: Norwegian Bridal Procession, Op. 19, No. 2
Grieg’s Norwegian Bridal Procession was first published in 1872 as one of a set of three piano pieces, described as Pictures from Folk Life. The piece had immediate popular appeal for Norwegian audiences.
The colourful houses and streets of Bergen are seen in the sunlight, with people at leisure in one of Bergen’s public parks.
Music Grieg: Two Norwegian Airs, Op. 63, No. 2 – Kuhreigen und Bauerntanz
Written originally for string orchestra in 1895, Kuhreigen und Bauerntanz (Cow Call and Peasant Dance) makes use of two Norwegian melodies.
Bergen is seen in the twilight, first from above, from the funicular that climbs to a thousand feet above the city.
Music Grieg: Two Elegiac Pieces, Op. 34: No. 1 – Hjertesar (Heart’s Wounds)
Grieg arranged Hjertesar, originally a song, for string orchestra. It was published in 1881 and remains one of his best known pieces.
Bergen is seen as the sun slowly sets, leaving the city to darkness.
Music Grieg: Two Elegiac Pieces, Op. 34: No. 2 – Varen (Last Spring)
The second of the Elegiac Pieces, Varen (Last Spring) is also adapted by Grieg from a song written in the same year. The piece shows yet again Grieg’s command of colourful harmonies.
Two Melodies, Two Norwegian Airs and Two Elegiac Pieces. Capella Istropolitana conducted by Adrian Leaper [Naxos 8.550330]
Wedding Day at Troldhaugen and Norwegian Bridal Procession. Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, Košice, conducted by Stephen Gunzenhauser [Naxos 8.556658]
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