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COMPOSERS: Halvorsen
WORKS: Fossegrimen; Norway’s Greeting to Theodore Roosevelt
PERFORMER: Arve Moen Bergset (violin, fiddle, voice), Øyvind Blunck (tenor), Per Vollestad (baritone), Åshild Skiri Refsdal (soprano), Joachim Sebastian Kjesbu (treble); Ginnungagap Choir, Latvian National SO/Terje Mikkelsen
Although Halvorsen wrote three symphonies, the greater part of his output was for the theatre, and so far Simax has issued two CDs devoted to it. Some of the music is second-rate, I suppose, but so much more is charming (at times even captivating), the invention fresh, and the scoring expert and full of colour. Sigurd Eldegard’s Fossegrimen, a ‘troll-play in four parts’, is partly based on the story of Myllarguten (The Miller’s Son), Norway’s celebrated folk-fiddler who learned his art from Fossegrimen, musical master of all the underworld creatures and, Faust-like, ‘pawned his soul’. Halvorsen’s colourful music from 1904 has much charm and fluency; the score is full of appealing folk-like ideas alongside some more conventional episodes. Some of it is so imaginative that it seems curmudgeonly to say that at over 50 minutes, it slightly outstays its welcome. Arve Moen Bergset not only plays the Hardanger fiddle and violin brilliantly but also contributes vocally. There are four other soloists including a boy soprano, and a mixed choir. (Øivind Bergh recorded a 20-minute suite from it in the Seventies, but this is the first complete recording.) Norway’s Greeting to Theodore Roosevelt is a pièce d’occasion written to mark the former president’s visit to Norway in 1910. Robert Layton