Geirr Tveitt, TVEITT: Piano Concerto No 4 / Variations on a Folk Song

Gavin Borchert

By Gavin Borchert

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Bright, bracing, cinematic and stirring.

Taking up, in a way, where Edvard Grieg left off, Geirr Tveitt was devoted to the sounds of Norwegian folk music: the bracing brightness of the Hardanger fiddle, the national folk instrument, and its typically tart harmonic language. Bartók makes a still better comparison: like the Hungarian, Tveitt collected indigenous folk melodies by the hundreds and drew on their style in his own work without taming or prettifying it. His cinematically vast works range from icily ethereal to chaotically rambunctious — sample just the last minute and a half from the first movement of his 1947 Fourth Piano Concerto, subtitled "Aurora Borealis," for a prime example. Tveitt was himself a virtuoso pianist, and Håvard Gimse and Gunilla Sussmann have mastered the concertos 'flamboyant technical demands.