Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Concert just gone

Postcards from Norway (sent on Thursday 22nd Nov, from Emmanuel URC, Trumpington Street, a gorgeous acoustic, a fabulous piano, and a generous lunch in their Fair Shares Cafe afterwards. There are some perks to the life of a musician!

Edvard Grieg, 1843-1907

Lyric Pieces

Op. 12 [1867]

1. Arietta
2. Valse
3. Vektersang
(Watchman’s Song)
4. Alfedans (Fairy dance)
5. Folkevise (Folksong)
6. Norsk (Norwegian)
7. Albumblud (Album Leaf)
8. Fedrelandssang (National Song)

Op. 43 [1884]

1. Sommerfugl (Butterfly)
2. Ensom vandrer (Solitary traveller)
3. I hjemmet (In my native country)
4. Småfugl (Little bird)
5. Erotik
6. Til
våren (To Spring)

Op. 71 [1901]

1. Det var engang (Once upon a time)
2. Sommeraften (Summer’s eve)
3. Småtroll (Puck)
4. Skogstillhet (Peace of the woods)
5. Halling (Norwegian dance)
6. Forbi (Gone)
7. Efterklang (Remembrances)

For colourful music with colourful titles commentary is largely redundant. However, a few facts about Grieg’s life and work may help pass the time. He was born in Bergen and lived most of his adult life in Oslo, returning to a lakeside house in Bergen, now a museum, for his final years. His great-grandfather was Scottish, hence the ‘Grieg’ (which was his middle name, his actual surname being Hagerup) and he had strong ties to the British Isles, often touring here to great acclaim and receiving honourary doctorates from both Cambridge (1894) and Oxford (1906 – a little slower to recognise his genius!). The ten sets of Lyric Pieces reveal his fascination with folk music and with the human voice, and act as a barometer for his increasing maturity as a composer. The first set, Op.12, dates from the year of his marriage to his cousin Nina, a soprano with whom he often gave concert tours. Though these works are extremely simple, sometimes almost twee, they hint at the dark passion to come. The third set, Op.43, displays a greater variety of character and brightness, full of chromaticism and exploring the sound world of unusual keys. The final set amplifies the dark and plaintive moods gestured at in the earlier sets but it is not without its jolly and rambunctious side. Finally, with Efterklang Grieg turns his gentle, straightforward Arietta of 1867 into a sliding, modulating waltz – a fitting farewell to the characterful drawing-room piece from this most lyrical of composers.