Norwegian music not by Grieg
No record label has done more for promoting the music of second-tier late Romantic composers than CPOÃ¢â‚¬â€bless them for their efforts! This time out itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the Norwegian composer and writer Gerhard Schjelderup (1859-1933). Schjelderup was, according to Grove, Ã¢â‚¬Å“the most important musical dramatist among Norwegian composers.Ã¢â‚¬Â I guess CPO should be serving up some of his operas next. What we have on this recording though are two very impressive orchestral pieces: Brand and Symphony No. 2 Ã¢â‚¬Å“To Norway.Ã¢â‚¬Â Brand is a symphonic drama thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s loosely based on IbsenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s play of the same name. This is hyper-Romantic music laced with Wagnerian gestures and juicy orchestral writing. There is some atmospheric nature music, a bit of steamy love music ÃƒÂ la Tristan and best of all, a Brucknerian chorale that pulses with heroic brass. If you are fond of the big tone poems of Strauss you will probably love this as much as I did. The symphony Ã¢â‚¬Å“To NorwayÃ¢â‚¬Â only refers to Norwegian music in the gorgeous Adagio movement (sub-titled Ã¢â‚¬Å“The mountain plateau,Ã¢â‚¬Â so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not really a folksong-based work. No matter, the symphony is loaded with interesting harmonies and flat-out beautiful melodies. The opening movement, sub-titled Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Sea,Ã¢â‚¬Â is dark-colored nature music that reminded me of passages from WagnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Das Rheingold (think of the scene where Alberich transforms himself into a serpent). Ã¢â‚¬Å“SpringÃ¢â‚¬Â is a lighter-than-air second movement scherzo thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s as good as anything from the German Romantics. It was only in Ã¢â‚¬Å“Up to the highest peaks!Ã¢â‚¬Â a rather heavy going and bombastic finale that Schjelderup missteps. While the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra does not have the gorgeous tone of letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s say, the Vienna Philharmonic, they are quite good and under the direction of Eivind Aadland make a very compelling case for a composer I want to hear more from.
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