CH5301. Grieg 2

Edvard Grieg: Symfoniske danser

Orchestral Choice
Performance ***** Recording *****

“… The tunes chosen are all winners and palpably Norwegian… Faultless performances in very natural sound throughout.”

David Nice – BBC Music magazine – March 2024


“This is a truly splendid disc in exceptionally faithful sound … a splendid reading of the Symphonic Dances … top-notch performances.”

Barry Forshaw – – 5 February 2024

Grieg’s four Symphonic Dances are a late work, completed in 1898. Grieg takes his inspiration (as in so much of his output) from traditional Norwegian folk tunes, and the four movements together deliver a symphonic unity in their overall effect.

Both Bergliot and Before a Southern Convent are written on texts by Grieg’s good friend the author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, who was also a theatre manager in Oslo. Bjørnson is considered one of the four great Norwegian authors alongside Ibsen, Lie, and Kielland, received the 1903 Nobel Prize for literature, and wrote the words for the Norwegian national anthem.

Bergliot – a declamation with orchestra – tells the story of a dramatic episode involving the chieftain Einar Tambarskjelve and his son Eindride, killed by King Harald Hårdråde.

Before a Southern Convent is a more traditional setting – requiring two vocal soloists, female choir, and orchestra rather than the narrator of Bergliot – of the story of the folk-hero and barbarian Arnljot Gelline. In the course of his wild escapades, he killed a chieftain, but allowed the chieftain’s daughter, Ingigerd, to live. This daughter left the homestead and wandered southwards in poverty – through Europe. At long last she arrived at a convent which granted her admittance.

The album is completed by the Funeral March for Rikard Nordraak – a friend of Grieg’s, who died of tuberculosis in 1866. Grieg conceived it first for solo piano, but whilst travelling by train to Bergen to attend Grieg’s funeral, Johan Halvorsen made the orchestral arrangement heard in this recording.