Harald Sæverud Fan Club (1897-1992)

Started by Elnimio, February 14, 2012, 04:13:30 PM

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Symphonic Addict

#20
I've enjoyed some of his works, among them the string quartets and some symphonies (namely 3, 6, 7 and 9). Like you, I also perceive a sense of bitter quirkiness from his pen that gives distinctiveness to his style, but unlike you, I didn't find his Peer Gynt Suites particularly enthralling. I should revisit them.

BTW, he has his own thread:

Harald Saeverud
Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

Dukas’Sidekick

Love what I've heard of Saeverud's music so far. I did a deep dive into another Norwegian Master, Johan Halvorsen, who also studied in Liepzig & was the Conductor of The National Theater in Oslo for 30 yrs. Halvorsen married Grieg's neice - close colleague & friend. Halvorsen's works are all charming & exquisitely orchestrated.
To Saeverud, now, I found him when sites recommend other composers of said country... I'd heard of him for his "Kjempeviseatten,"  "Battle of Revolt," Sevaerud's brother was an officer in the Norwegian Resistance to Germany's Occupation of Norway during WW2. It's a great piece. So is his "Siljuslatten" (Dances from the town he first lived in after his marriage. But I especially LOVE his two "Peer Gynt" Suites. I love the First Suite best, and from The Second, mvmts 1-5. This is his quirkiest, most original work I've heard... The Great Norwegian Tale "Peer Gynt," (Ibsen) had something like 140 scenes, & of course, Grieg spent a year + composing music some 50 years earlier for 30+ scenes he thought best for musical depictions. Sæverud & a few other composers also wrote for "Gynt," but most chose other mvmts, for the most part, than Grieg. That's what Sæverud did, w the exception of "Anitra's Dance" & "Solveig's Song." But the other 11 mvmts are wonderfully modern, jaunty (Devil's 5-Hop) & The Threatener. Listen to the works I mentioned, but w Saeverud, you might need 3-5 listening to realize how amazing it is.
Sæverud liked to say his birth home was on an ancient graveyard, so he thinks that's why he's always had a mystical, sometimes dark but humorous view of the world & his composition. His music sounds like no others.'
Love "Val Mors" & the Symphonies I've listened to so far. And his "Gjaetelvise Variations" is cool, as is his "Leyte Stryker" is charming beyond belief. Maybe start with this one first 8) 👍🎵😎

Brian



I don't know why I keep starting new listening projects instead of finishing the last ones.  ;D But the only Saeverud I've heard is the "Minnesota" Symphony, and he is occasionally mentioned favorably in the Listening thread, so here goes.

The Peer Gynt suites take up almost 40 minutes, and they're exactly as promised in this thread: full of puckish humor, comical dissonances, stomping peasant dances, tuba solos, and hymns. One movement, "Mixed Company," has quotes of Le Marseillaise and Yankee Doodle. There's also a movement called "Peer-ludium" (though it is not as silly as it sounds). The selection arranged by BIS for this performance ends on two softer, quieter melodies - kind of like how many presentations of the Grieg version end on a gentle song.

The Symphony No. 6, Sinfonia Dolorosa, is just 12 short minutes, and a concise, taut, well-orchestrated exploration of the title mood. Climaxes have a way of sneaking up on you, and Saeverud is incredible at the transitional moments (like tempo changes) where some composers struggle to be creative. The final climax is eye-popping and maybe even awe-inspiring. It actually sounds like Philip Glass for a minute! I would love to see this piece live at the beginning of a concert.

Program idea:

Saeverud | Symphony No. 6
Shostakovich | Violin Concerto No. 1
Piston | Symphony No. 2

The Symphony was written during World War II and dedicated in memory of a friend who was killed while fighting for the Resistance. This CD ends with two lighter works that were also written during the War. Galdreslatten and Kjempevise-Slatten are both based in folk music, expressions of Norwegian character in defiance of the occupying regime. The latter especially became a Resistance anthem. Both are folksy, but orchestrated with modern sophistication, and somewhat repetitive as different instruments take up the main tunes.

I enjoyed every minute of this and the Symphony in particular is a miniature masterpiece that would fit well on a mixed-rep CD of composers' responses to WWII. (This, Martinu's Memorial, Honegger's Third, Metamorphosen?)



The Bassoon Concerto is personal to Saeverud because its tragic slow movement contains the melody he had intended for his "swan song" - a melody he originally planned to publish only after his death. But he came to feel that the bassoon was the most human of instruments, and also (curiously) the most festive one. A very gentle Nordic influence permeates the three movements, and the bassoon gets to play with a full orchestra that is smartly subdivided so that the soloist is never overpowered. There's a real mix of styles throughout the piece, and Saeverud's voice is very hard to compare to other composers. The very ending is a bit of a witty prank. Overall, this is probably the most I have enjoyed listening to any bassoon concerto except Sebastian Fagerlund's.

Next up is the incidental music to a modernist production of Shakespeare's Rape of Lucretia, written a dozen years before the Peer Gynt score. Saeverud's music is not super-modernist, though: it has more in common with the cool, calm, soberly realist music of someone like Wiren or maybe, maybe, the faintest, tiniest whisper of Nielsen's Aladdin. Definitely not as populist as that example, but very compelling.

Symphony No. 7 is a "Hymn Symphony" in one movement, but that arc is divided into an introduction and five parts: Hymns, Yuletide Variations, Stave Church Chimes, Fugue, and Glorification. The piece is based on spiritual material of the composer's own devising, not pre-existing hymns (I think; I don't know many hymns). The music unfolds as variations even outside of the straightforwardly sweet and pretty Yuletide set. This piece may be lower on drama until the fugue begins, but it is amazingly consistent in its tone and rigorous with its small amount of musical material. This is probably the most optimistic Saeverud yet, and you do need to enjoy the main theme since it appears more than once a minute. I did.

Seven works on these two discs, and seven hits. Saeverud might become one of my guys!

foxandpeng

Quote from: Brian on July 09, 2024, 09:36:25 AM

I don't know why I keep starting new listening projects instead of finishing the last ones.  ;D But the only Saeverud I've heard is the "Minnesota" Symphony, and he is occasionally mentioned favorably in the Listening thread, so here goes.

The Peer Gynt suites take up almost 40 minutes, and they're exactly as promised in this thread: full of puckish humor, comical dissonances, stomping peasant dances, tuba solos, and hymns. One movement, "Mixed Company," has quotes of Le Marseillaise and Yankee Doodle. There's also a movement called "Peer-ludium" (though it is not as silly as it sounds). The selection arranged by BIS for this performance ends on two softer, quieter melodies - kind of like how many presentations of the Grieg version end on a gentle song.

The Symphony No. 6, Sinfonia Dolorosa, is just 12 short minutes, and a concise, taut, well-orchestrated exploration of the title mood. Climaxes have a way of sneaking up on you, and Saeverud is incredible at the transitional moments (like tempo changes) where some composers struggle to be creative. The final climax is eye-popping and maybe even awe-inspiring. It actually sounds like Philip Glass for a minute! I would love to see this piece live at the beginning of a concert.

Program idea:

Saeverud | Symphony No. 6
Shostakovich | Violin Concerto No. 1
Piston | Symphony No. 2

The Symphony was written during World War II and dedicated in memory of a friend who was killed while fighting for the Resistance. This CD ends with two lighter works that were also written during the War. Galdreslatten and Kjempevise-Slatten are both based in folk music, expressions of Norwegian character in defiance of the occupying regime. The latter especially became a Resistance anthem. Both are folksy, but orchestrated with modern sophistication, and somewhat repetitive as different instruments take up the main tunes.

I enjoyed every minute of this and the Symphony in particular is a miniature masterpiece that would fit well on a mixed-rep CD of composers' responses to WWII. (This, Martinu's Memorial, Honegger's Third, Metamorphosen?)



The Bassoon Concerto is personal to Saeverud because its tragic slow movement contains the melody he had intended for his "swan song" - a melody he originally planned to publish only after his death. But he came to feel that the bassoon was the most human of instruments, and also (curiously) the most festive one. A very gentle Nordic influence permeates the three movements, and the bassoon gets to play with a full orchestra that is smartly subdivided so that the soloist is never overpowered. There's a real mix of styles throughout the piece, and Saeverud's voice is very hard to compare to other composers. The very ending is a bit of a witty prank. Overall, this is probably the most I have enjoyed listening to any bassoon concerto except Sebastian Fagerlund's.

Next up is the incidental music to a modernist production of Shakespeare's Rape of Lucretia, written a dozen years before the Peer Gynt score. Saeverud's music is not super-modernist, though: it has more in common with the cool, calm, soberly realist music of someone like Wiren or maybe, maybe, the faintest, tiniest whisper of Nielsen's Aladdin. Definitely not as populist as that example, but very compelling.

Symphony No. 7 is a "Hymn Symphony" in one movement, but that arc is divided into an introduction and five parts: Hymns, Yuletide Variations, Stave Church Chimes, Fugue, and Glorification. The piece is based on spiritual material of the composer's own devising, not pre-existing hymns (I think; I don't know many hymns). The music unfolds as variations even outside of the straightforwardly sweet and pretty Yuletide set. This piece may be lower on drama until the fugue begins, but it is amazingly consistent in its tone and rigorous with its small amount of musical material. This is probably the most optimistic Saeverud yet, and you do need to enjoy the main theme since it appears more than once a minute. I did.

Seven works on these two discs, and seven hits. Saeverud might become one of my guys!

I like what I've heard by Saeverud. Thank you for the reminder to return to him!
"A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy

Alex Bozman

You've listened and commented on a couple of my favourite Saeverud symphonies, Brian. The sombre intense 6th, which manages to pack a lot into  12 minutes and the post war 7th Salme, with it's use of the composers own material sounding like hymn tunes. I've enjoyed all of the orchestral works heard, the Peer Gynt suites being the best known, but have found it hard to get a handle on any of the concertos. Given your positive take on the Bassoon Concerto, will dig the cd out for another listen.