Author Topic: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)  (Read 10277 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« on: November 29, 2008, 06:38:36 AM »
I can't believe that we don't seem to have a Klaus Egge thread yet ( ;D). Anyway, a strong recommendation for some of this interesting Norwegian composer's work. In particular the fine 1st Symphony, dedicated to the Norwegian merchant seamen of World War Two. It is rather waltonian, with echoes of the sea. There is also a rather lovely string quartet on Naxos (in '20th Century Norwegian String Quartets') and a CD of piano works. Like Braga Santos (remember him?) he went all atonal later on and I find these works less appealing (ie Symphony 2 etc) but others may disagree.

Any other admirers?

http://www.mic.no/mic.nsf/doc/art2002101215073165503776

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2008, 06:42:04 AM »
I forgot to mention this very good recent Naxos disc. The Piano Concerto No 2 comes into Egge's more tonal work and is very enjoyable. An older recording is coupled with the First Symphony on Aurora:

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Harry

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2008, 06:43:38 AM »
Heard the name, but do not know the composer in dept. I heard a few atonal works from him, and that put me off big time.
I did not know he wrote Waltonian works in the pre-atonal years.
Will certainly dip my feet carefully in this music.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2008, 06:49:08 AM »
I can't believe that we didn't have any thread on a Norwegian composer - even Grieg! To anyone who likes his later music - are there any similarities to Fartein Valen?
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2008, 06:53:01 AM »
Heard the name, but do not know the composer in dept. I heard a few atonal works from him, and that put me off big time.
I did not know he wrote Waltonian works in the pre-atonal years.
Will certainly dip my feet carefully in this music.

Harry,

Try one of the two Naxos discs, especially the String Quartet or Piano Concerto No 2 as a sampler. If you like those I'd very much recommend the completely tonal First Symphony, which I found years ago on an old Phillips LP wirh Karsten Andersen conducting the Bergen PO. A fine, if rather boxed-in recording (same one as on the Aurora CD).
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2008, 06:55:09 AM »
I can't believe that we didn't have any thread on a Norwegian composer - even Grieg! To anyone who likes his later music - are there any similarities to Fartein Valen?

Yes, I noticed that too about the lack of Norwegian composers (although there is a Scandinavian composer's thread). Unfortunately I am unfamiliar with Valen's works.

The String Quartet is about the only one of my classical CDs that my wife has enjoyed  ::)
« Last Edit: November 29, 2008, 06:58:35 AM by vandermolen »
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2008, 07:02:03 AM »
Yes, I noticed that too about the lack of Norwegian composers (although there is a Scandinavian composer's thread). Unfortunately I am unfamiliar with Valen's works.

I'm also quite inexperienced with Valen, but found his lieder on a Simax disc quite refreshing/interesting. Thanks for starting this thread, I have heard Egge's name mentioned several times on GMG but know nothing about him.
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2008, 07:17:01 AM »
There have been threads on composers like Sibelius, Carl Nielsen, Hilding Rosenberg, Allan Pettersson, Rued Langgaard but the Scandinavian Composers' Thread tends to sweep up most composers from the Nordic countries ;D There has been a good deal of discussion about particular composers-for example, the great Dane Vagn Holmboe-in that thread and that has, probably, tended to inhibit some of us from starting individual threads. Now that Jeffrey has started however....... ;D

Klaus Egge. I first acquired some Egge in the early 1970s when Norsk Komponistforening(The Society of Norwegian Composers) sponsored a short series of LPs on the Philips label(remember that?). The Egge Symphony No.4 was coupled with Finn Mortensen's Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra and Egil Hovland's Lamenti for Orchestra.

Then in the late 1980s Aurora transferred some of this music to cd. Since then there has been relatively little Norwegian music issued although recently the Simax label has issued a few discs with music by Norwegian composers. BIS has recorded most of Saeverud's orchestral output, some Geirr Tveitt, some Eivind Groven and is midway through a Fartein Valen cycle.

There has been no new Egge though, apart from the Naxos disc Jeffrey wrote about. There are the two old Aurora discs-now very much showing their age in terms of sound. The impressive Symphony No.1 coupled with the attractive 2nd Piano Concerto and the Symphonies Nos. 2('Sinfonia giocoso') and 4('Sinfonia sopra B.A.C.H.') coupled with the Cello Concerto. The Symphony No.3 'Louisville Symphony' might have seen the light of day along with so many other Louisville commissions but that hope now seems to be receding :(

I certainly find Egge-even in 'more modern mode'-a more sympathetic composer than Fartein Valen. I just can't relate to the dry, introverted, atonality of Valen's music :(

Egge's earlier music puts him into the same sort of Norwegian nationalist camp as Groven or Tveitt but he does evolve into a composer clearly influenced by composers like Bartok and Stravinsky. Of his generation-he was born in 1906 and died in 1979 and was 9 years younger than Harald Saeverud-he probably ranks as the most impressive Norwegian composer after Saeverud. We do need modern recordings of his principal compositions :)

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2008, 07:20:56 AM »
I DO really write TOO much at times, don't I?

Apologies to those who find my posts prolix in the extreme ;D

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2008, 07:26:02 AM »
I DO really write TOO much at times, don't I?

Apologies to those who find my posts prolix in the extreme ;D

Nah, keep then coming, I rather read than write, and you do the job at hand so well.... ;D

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2008, 07:28:00 AM »
Nah, keep then coming, I rather read than write, and you do the job at hand so well.... ;D

You are very kind, Harry :) I am afraid that I rather tend to get carried away with enthusiasm when I write ;D

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2008, 09:26:53 AM »
I DO really write TOO much at times, don't I?

Apologies to those who find my posts prolix in the extreme ;D

No, you DON'T write too much! I always enjoy your posts. :)

I have enjoyed this CD too:
« Last Edit: November 29, 2008, 09:29:22 AM by vandermolen »
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Offline just Jeff

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2010, 08:16:27 PM »
Philips issued Cello Concerto:


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Offline some guy

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2010, 10:45:18 PM »
Amazing how a word with so little content,* atonal, should be the kiss of death for so many listeners. Indeed, all anyone on a music board has to say is "atonal" and immediately several others will decide not to listen to the music so designated.

Good job. Discourage people from listening to music.

Well, now at least I am interested in giving Egge a listen, especially to the later works. So your plan has failed with me, anyway. (You still get points for effort, though. And the effort is to get people to avoid certain things. And incredible things, too. How anyone could in their wildest imaginings call Valen's graceful and limpid and overtly charming symphony no. 4 "dry" or "introverted" really baffles me. It would be nice if we kept our personal shortcomings as listeners separate from our descriptions of the music. Neither "dry" nor "introverted" describe Valen's music. They describe Dundonnell's response to his music, nothing more.)

((For those of you who like scoring debating points, my "graceful" and "limpid" and "charming" are also not descriptions of Valen's music but of my response to it. At least my adjectives would encourage some to give Valen a try. And they may find that his music is worth trying. And my adjectives come from a sympathetic engagement with the music, not a facile rejection. So they're likelier to be closer to "the truth," doncha know? ;)))

*I would be interested in how Vandermolen or Harry define it, since most of the various (I counted six at one point) definitions of "atonal" do not cover the 12-tone technique that Egge used late in his career (and beginning with symphony no. 4, not 2, which is as tonal as any of his other works before the 4th).
« Last Edit: December 03, 2010, 10:46:53 PM by some guy »

Offline lescamil

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2010, 11:19:54 PM »
I personally enjoy the work of his countryman Geirr Tveitt much more (such a sad story there), but I do enjoy Klaus Egge's works a bit. The aforementioned disk with his second piano concerto is great. There is also a disk (on Simax, I believe) that features his piano works, with Torleif Torgerson playing. It really is quite similar to Tveitt's music, and I imagine that all of those lost works by Tveitt would be quite similar to what Torgerson played on that disk.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2010, 12:48:08 PM »
In response to some guy.

I am not a musician but I guess that when I refer to something as being 'atonal' I mean that there are no recognisable tunes or themes. I am trying to appreciate such music more and, for example the 'Facetter' Symphony of Karl-Birger Blomdahl, symphonies by Nordgren and Symphony 3 by Hoddinott are works that I have come to appreciate more and more and I think they come into this category - but maybe not.  Hoddinott's work is described as 'encroaching on tonality' but I am not entirely sure what this means. I do not understand the technicalities of music and just go by gut reaction to particular sounds.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2010, 12:50:53 PM »
Philips issued Cello Concerto:




A nostagia trip seeing this again! Thank you for posting. Philips also issued Karsten Andersen's fine Bergen performance of my favourite Egge work - the First Symphony.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2010, 12:52:34 PM by vandermolen »
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Offline some guy

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2010, 02:05:05 PM »
Thanks for satisfying my curiosity, vandermolen.

And I hope I'm not out of line to point out that I don't think anyone could have derived that meaning from your post alone. That is, someone who already knows you or who has seen several similar posts of yours might be able to. No one else.

I'd like to add that the word "recognisable" points somewhere else than to the music. It clearly implies a "recogniser" or at least a listener, who may or may not recognise this or that particular thing. Some listeners don't have any trouble hearing tunes and themes in any of the music you've identified as "atonal."

What remains unchanged in all this is the negative connotation of the word. Most people who use that word (by no means all) use it to identify something as bad. Something that they avoid, and perhaps, by extension, something that other people should avoid too if they know what's good for them. ;) But if "atonal" is anything like "recognisable" (and I obviously think it is), then it too says nothing about the music itself, only something about the auditor. And not all auditors are alike.

I applaud your efforts to enjoy more things, by the way. Only good can come of that kind of activity!!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2010, 02:29:52 PM »
Thanks for satisfying my curiosity, vandermolen.

And I hope I'm not out of line to point out that I don't think anyone could have derived that meaning from your post alone. That is, someone who already knows you or who has seen several similar posts of yours might be able to. No one else.

I'd like to add that the word "recognisable" points somewhere else than to the music. It clearly implies a "recogniser" or at least a listener, who may or may not recognise this or that particular thing. Some listeners don't have any trouble hearing tunes and themes in any of the music you've identified as "atonal."

What remains unchanged in all this is the negative connotation of the word. Most people who use that word (by no means all) use it to identify something as bad. Something that they avoid, and perhaps, by extension, something that other people should avoid too if they know what's good for them. ;) But if "atonal" is anything like "recognisable" (and I obviously think it is), then it too says nothing about the music itself, only something about the auditor. And not all auditors are alike.

I applaud your efforts to enjoy more things, by the way. Only good can come of that kind of activity!!

My pleasure - and just to confuse things (for me at least!) further, I've just been listening to a very fine Symphony No. 1 by Philip Sawyers (born 1951). In the booklet note Sawyers describes the opening as being 'on a 12-note row introduced at the outset...' and yet the whole thing sounds lyrical and melodic to me. I'll get there in the end. :)
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Re: Klaus Egge (1906-1979)
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2010, 03:14:53 PM »
Amazing how a word with so little content,* atonal, should be the kiss of death for so many listeners. Indeed, all anyone on a music board has to say is "atonal" and immediately several others will decide not to listen to the music so designated.

Good job. Discourage people from listening to music.

Well, now at least I am interested in giving Egge a listen, especially to the later works. So your plan has failed with me, anyway. (You still get points for effort, though. And the effort is to get people to avoid certain things. And incredible things, too. How anyone could in their wildest imaginings call Valen's graceful and limpid and overtly charming symphony no. 4 "dry" or "introverted" really baffles me. It would be nice if we kept our personal shortcomings as listeners separate from our descriptions of the music. Neither "dry" nor "introverted" describe Valen's music. They describe Dundonnell's response to his music, nothing more.)

((For those of you who like scoring debating points, my "graceful" and "limpid" and "charming" are also not descriptions of Valen's music but of my response to it. At least my adjectives would encourage some to give Valen a try. And they may find that his music is worth trying. And my adjectives come from a sympathetic engagement with the music, not a facile rejection. So they're likelier to be closer to "the truth," doncha know? ;)))

I find both Valen and Egge easy to enjoy, and it only takes one hearing to get to that point.  As some guy indicated, the "atonal" description tells us nothing.  For my money, anyone who treasures Prokofiev or Shostakovich will likely find Valen and Egge very rewarding.