Classics Today 10/10.
“Hollywood goes to Oslo” was how Tveitt’s music was described by a leading magazine at the time of an previous BIS release – surely a description to make anyone curious! Our series of the music of Geirr Tveitt (1908-1981) has opened the eyes and ears of many to this fascinating composer and personality, previously all but unknown outside of his native Norway. The curious have been able to sample Tveitt’s deep involvement with the folk music of his beloved country, as in the four extant suites (a fifth has been lost) which make up his great work A Hundred Folk-tunes from Hardanger (on BIS-CD-987 and 1227) as well as in the Concertos for Hardanger fiddle (BIS-CD-1207). Tveitt’s preoccupation with the Old Norse legends has also featured, as in the Sun God Symphony (BIS-CD-1027) and, recently, on BIS-CD-1337/38, entitled Baldur’s Dreams.
On the present disc, the focus is on the works for piano and orchestra – works which Tveitt himself, as the piano virtuoso that he also was, usually premièred himself. The Piano Concerto No. 5 is a case in point. First performed, by the composer, in Paris in 1954, it has become “the” Norwegian piano concerto after the Grieg A minor, and is full to the brim with poetic tenderness and rugged power in a brew of deeply original musical ideas.
This also applies to the earlier, but equally lyrical, Variations on a Folk-song from Hardanger, for two pianos and orchestra. This work is based on a Norwegian folk song called There’s a maid standing by the well, and was first performed in 1938, with Tveitt and his future wife as soloists.
As on our previous Tveitt discs it is conductor Ole Kristian Ruud and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra which with an inimitable enthusiam brings this music to us. (About BIS-CD-1027, the Gramophone reviewer wrote: "The Stavanger Orchestra provide beautifully played and characterful accounts under Ole Kristian Ruud's firm direction.") The soloists are Nils Mortensen and Sveinung Bjelland, young Norwegian pianists recording on BIS for the first time.