La flûte norvégienne
This is as much a celebration of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra’s principal flute chair as it is a snapshot of the divergent influences that were shaping Norwegian music in the decade 1953‑63. Tom Ottar Andreassen formerly occupied that chair (he now plays in the Oslo Philharmonic and Norwegian Chamber orchestras) where his predecessors Alf Andersen and Per Øien were responsible for introducing these works and, often, prompting their creation in the first place.
The year 1953 saw the first international festival of new music in Oslo under the guidance of Ny Mysikk’s Pauline Hall, and international currents were very much felt in the 10 years following. Edvard Fliflet Bræin went to study in Paris and neoclassicism shapes his Concertino for flute and orchestra (1958), a direct and spiky piece that springs thematically from small cells (it’s notable that the faun-like language associated with the flute from previous compositional schools born in France prevails in the soloist’s part). Johan Kvandal’s Concerto for flute and strings (1963) is more individual, combining wistfulness with barbed elegance and including a tone row in its slow movement.
Neoclassicism and atonality meet in Egil Hovland’s Suite for flute and strings (1959) but despite that the piece isn’t as cold as you might think, mostly as the composer throws in some grit and develops a more dynamic and confrontational relationship between soloist and orchestra. Dark clouds linger over the second movement (of five), which rests on a sinister ostinato, and the Passacaglia plays with the structural implications of the title. We end with Finn Mortensen’s highly focused Sonata for solo flute of 1953. It was considered unplayable at the time but seems technically quite tame now. It certainly doesn’t trouble Andreassen, who plays with character, technical finesse and an attractively unfussy tone, while his old orchestra do him proud.