(The) Long, Long Winter Night - Norwegian Piano Works
Leif Ove Andsnes may have vowed not to touch Grieg’s Piano Concerto again for many years, but he shows he can still be a thoughtful and eager advocate of the music of his compatriots in this recital of little-known Norwegian piano pieces. The long, long winter night which so concentrates the Northern mind and imagination, and which gives this disc its name, is the title of one of the
There is more to tease the ear in the four Portraits by the writer, critic and pianist David Monrad Johansen (1888-1974), whose “Little Stone God” and “Reindeer”, from 1918, reveal the imagination of a Nordic Debussy even before the composer began his travels to Paris. Andsnes then gives a vigorous, lucid performance of Fartein Valen’s 12 Variations on a 12-tone theme.
The recital, which began with characteristically probing and concentrated performances of nine miniatures from Grieg’s Norwegian Folksongs and Peasant dances (Slatter) ends with a tribute to Norway’s great eccentric and musical polyglot, Harald Saeverud. His maverick talent is perhaps best focused in his piano music: when I visited the feisty nonagenarian in his last days, the Ballad of revolt, dedicated to “small and large resistance fighters”, was all he wanted to talk about. Andsnes pays him enthusiastic tribute in four of the Tunes and Dances from Siljustol, and in a final extract from Saeverud’s own Peer Gynt music.'