Monday, January 4, 2016

Edvard Grieg and Friends on Spotify

Here is an overture by Edvard Grieg and a selection of symphonic works by two of his friends, Arthur de Greef and Julius Röntgen. 

In 1866, Edvard Grieg received a melody from his brother, sent to him by letter. It was a “harvest ballad”, sung by Norwegian farmers to celebrate the circle of grow and harvest. Grieg used the melody (and the idea of Autumn as season of destruction and a new beginning) in his overture “Im Herbst” (in autumn). Fellow composer Niels Gade trashed the work and in 1887 Grieg re-wrote the work. It still is not a much performed overture, but it certainly is nog one of Grieg’s weaker pieces. Judge for yourself :-) 

Belgian pianist and composer Arthur de Greef is more known these days by his friendship with composers, Liszt (who’s pupil he was for two years), Saint-Saens and Grieg. His early 20th century recordings of the concerto’s by Grieg and Saint-Saens are still valuable documents, therefore. As a composer, he remained in the “safe” late 19th century style, as his 1930 second piano concerto shows. But anachronistic or not, it’s a fine work. Especially in the luxurious performance of Arthur Pizarro and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Before the concerto you can hear a small “Humoresque” for orchestra and five french love-songs, sung by soprano Charlotte Riedijk, who gives a very soulful and moving reading of these somewhat more harmonically adventurous songs. 

Julius Röntgen, was also known as a friend of Edvard Grieg. He even was trusted with the legacy of the composer and finished Grieg’s second string quartet. Röntgen was born in Leipzig, Germany, but worked most of his life in the Netherlands. There he build a home in Bilthoven, called “Villa Gaudeamus”, structured in the shape of a grand piano… 
From this composer the rather Griegian “Aus Jotunheim” suite from 1892 and one of his 21(!) symphonies. The Symphony no 3 from 1910 is a pleasant-on-the-ear work, halfway between Schumann and Richard Strauss.

"Röntgen's compositions, published and unpublished, cover the whole range of music in every art form; they all show consummate mastery in every aspect of technique. Even in the most facile there is beauty and wit. Each series of works culminates in something that has the uniqueness of a living masterpiece." -- Sir Donald Francis Tovey

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
-Im Herbst (in Autumn) overture op. 11 (1866 rev 1887)
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Ole Christian Ruud, conductor

Arthur de Greef (1862-1940)
-Humoresque for orchestra (1928)
-Cinq chants d'amour, for Soprano and Orchestra (1903)
-Piano concerto no 2 in b-flat minor (1930)
Arthur Pizarro, piano
Flemish Radio Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Julius Röntgen (1855-1932) 
-Suite “Aus Jotunheim” (1892)
-Symphony no 3 in c minor (1910)
Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz
David Porcelijn, conductor
(HTTP link)

Villa Gaudeamus, build by Julius Röntgen

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