A legend as a folk-fiddler in his native Norway, Eivind Groven was firmly rooted in folk music, and all but self-taught as a composer. Like many other composers before him, he collected folk tunes, contributing more than a thousand to the rich treasures of the Norwegian music archives. His approach to composition was an unusual one, however: much of his music was shaped by his acoustical research into the untempered intonation of Norwegian folk musicians and the specific qualities of the resulting sound. As part of his research he constructed his ‘Automatic Just Intonation Tuning Device’, an organ-like instrument with 36 possible pitches per octave and an ingenious coupling device - assembled from discarded relays from a telephone company - which would choose the correct pitch according to the harmonic context.
What makes Groven so special is that he succeeded in making artistic use of the results of his scientific research, exploiting them in a number of works for orchestra. Typical traits are his frequent use of the chord on a sixth, some highly individual major-minor constellations and a deliberately frugal use of the chordal palette. This disc opens with Groven's most well-known work, the overture Hjalar-ljod, continuing with Symphony No. 1, subtitled 'Towards the Mountains', and the two suites of Norwegian dances ('slåttar'). Through highly acclaimed recordings of the music of Saeverud and Tveitt, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra has done ground-breaking work for Norwegian music abroad. Now they and conductor Eivind Aadland bring yet another neglected countryman to the notice of a wider audience.