Norwegian Opera Overtures
Aspestrand: Der Recke von Lyrskovsheid Overture; Borgstrøm: Thora paa Rimol Overture; Eggen: Olav Liljekrans – Dance; Elling: Der Recke von Lyrskovsheid – Overture and Dance; Haarklou: Væringene i Miklagard Overture; O Olsen: Lajla Overture; Thrane: Fjeldeventyret Overture; Udbye: Fredkulla Overture
Norwegian National Opera Orchestra/Ingar Bergby
Lawo Classics LWC 1218 69:29 mins
How many Norwegian operas have you actually come across? There isn’t a big backlog to choose from, as the country’s operatic tradition only began in the late 1850s with Martin Udbye’s Fredkulla, one of the works reflecting that century’s nationalist surge. Judging by the booklet notes, even if Norwegian operas were written, production was not guaranteed. Fredkulla’s stage premiere took place in 1997; other composers saw their operas reduced to extracts or put on the shelf.
Udbye’s overture, characterised by a Mendelssohnian momentum and flow, is one of the jolliest in this enterprising dip into music history. Waldemar Thrane’s earlier overture to the 1825 singspiel Fjeldeventyret is quite toe-tapping too, burnished with the heartwarming gusto that Ingar Bergby and the Norwegian National Orchestra bestow on all these resurrections. Into the pot go Norwegian folk music, Wagnerian echoes, a squeeze of Massenet, a sliver of Sibelius – a conservative mixture on the whole, poured over librettos largely drawn from national legends and dramas. As advertisements for the complete operas, it would be stretching things to say this selection whets ones appetite for more. But it’s always fun peeping behind a curtain, and Bergby’s team play with such flair.