WORKS: Olav Trygvason; Funeral March in Memory of Rikard Nordraak; Bergliot
PERFORMER: Soveig Kringelborn (soprano), Randi Stene (mezzo-soprano), Per Vollestad (baritone); Trondheim SO & Chorus/Ole Kristian Ruud
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45051 2 DDD
The three scenes that were all that was written of Grieg’s single operatic project date from 1873, but he waited in vain for further segments of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s libretto on the life of the tenth-century baptised Viking warrior, Olav Trygvason. Eventually the composer decided to publish the cantata-like opening on its own, and it has on occasion been staged, although its static manner probably suits it better to choral societies. While it shows a sense of atmosphere, the thematic material is of slight interest and scarcely suggests a great opera composer in the making.
Bergliot (premiered in 1885) is in the unusual form of a melodrama with orchestra. The dramatic text (telling of a widow’s demand for retribution after her husband and son have been murdered) is declaimed against and between orchestral sections. Musically it comes across as rather stop-go in approach, though actress Lise Fjeldstad is an enthusiastic exponent of the grim Nordic text.
The 1866 Funeral March for Grieg’s young friend and fellow composer Rikard Nordraak (who composed the Norwegian national anthem) has a certain dignity in its orchestral version by Johan Halvorsen. Able performances throughout, though the Trondheim Symphony Chorus’s tone is inclined to be shallow. George Hall