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WORKS: Peer Gynt Suites, Op. 28/1 & 2; Sinfonia dolorosa; Galdreslåtten; Kjempevise-slåtten
PERFORMER: Stavanger SO/Alexander Dmitriev
For Norwegians, Harald Sæverud (1897-1992) is deemed the successor to Grieg as the national composer and is the country’s most significant symphonist. His mature style is marked by a refined neo-classicism and a resolute adherence to tonality. It was this directness of language that made him the ideal composer to provide music for a production of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt in 1948 that had been specially translated into the synthesised ‘nynorsk’ language, or New Norwegian. Sæverud’s brief was to counteract the over-Romanticised music of Grieg and to emphasise the psychology rather than the local colour (it has to be remembered that that most Norwegian-sounding of pieces, Grieg’s ‘Morning Mood’, was written to introduce the African act of Ibsen’s play).


Sæverud went into internal exile during the wartime Nazi occupation of Norway, but his music became a focus for the Resistance, particularly his best-known work, the Ballad of Revolt for piano, which here appears in its lengthened orchestral guise. The 12-minute Sinfonia dolorosa, the sixth of his nine symphonies, meanwhile, was written as a direct response to the execution of a friend in the Resistance movement.


The Stavanger SO’s playing is fully alive to the vibrant colour and rhythmic vitality of Sæverud’s music and the orchestra is recorded in the generous but clear acoustic of the Stavanger Konserthus. Warmly recommended. Matthew Rye