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Grieg: Holberg Suite, Music for Strings - Ruud

Grieg: Holberg Suite, Music for Strings - Ruud

BIS  BIS-SACD-1491

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Grieg: Holberg Suite Op. 40, Two Elegiac Melodies Op. 34, Two Melodies Op. 53, Two Nordic Melodies Op. 63, Two Lyric Pieces Op. 68

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Ole Kristian Ruud (conductor)


Gathered on this disc are all of Grieg's works for string orchestra, together with Evening in the Mountains from Op. 68, which also features oboe and horn. All of them are the composer's own arrangements, of some of his most popular songs or piano pieces.

At the time, they functioned as vehicles for Grieg himself as a conductor - the role he usually filled on his many international concert appearances. As other similar works from the same period, they weren't necessarily composed for small ensembles - in many cases the number of divisi parts presupposes a fairly large string orchestra in order to get a full sound.

Here it is the strings of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra who amply fulfil any expectations that the orchestra's previous Grieg recordings will have given rise to: the full-bodied sound of a large orchestra's string section combined with the fleetness and rhythmic flexibility of a chamber ensemble. This is especially clear in movements such as the Rigaudon of the Holberg Suite, Grieg's paraphrase on the 18th century dance suite and one of his most well-loved pieces.

About our recently released Peer Gynt, MusicWeb International wrote ‘these discs provide a wonderfully refreshing view of Grieg’s music, in fine idiomatic performances’ while Sigurd Jorsalfar, an earlier disc in the series, earned the following words from the reviewer from Classics Today.com: ‘I can't imagine finer interpretations than those offered by conductor Ole Kristian Ruud and a clearly energized Bergen Philharmonic.’ On this disc, Ole Kristian Ruud and the Bergen strings again give us performances that are as fresh as the dew on a Norwegian mountain top, while remaining firmly rooted in a Grieg tradition that no orchestra could know better than this one, Grieg's own.

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PCM recording

Recorded in June 2004 at the Grieg Hall, Bergen, Norway

Recording producer: Hans Kipfer (Holberg Suife: Thore Brinkmann)

Sound engineer: Jens Braun

Digital editing: Matthias Spitzbarth, Bastian Schick

Mixing: Thore Brinkmann, Jens Braun

SACD authoring: Bastiaan Kuijt

Recording equipment: Neumann microphones; Stage Tec 28-bit A/D Converter; Yamaha 02R96 mixer; Samplitide HD recording; Stax headphones; B&W Nautilus 8o2 surround monitors

Executive producer: Robert Suff
Reviews (1)
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Review by John Broggio - March 29, 2006

After listening to Building a Library (BBC Radio 3) on the Holberg Suite last weekend, where this disc narrowly lost out to be first choice for the shelf, I thought I’d give this a try. I was not disappointed with the simply stunning recording and (just as fabulous) playing and I look forward with great eagerness to remainder of the ongoing cycle.

With music of this technical difficulty it can be hard to make the facile seem profound and interesting without appearing mannered. Ruud and the strings of the Bergen Philharmonic achieve this with ease. Even more remarkable than the lustre and sheen of the strings is the fact that none of these pieces which sound so idiomatic are actually “native” string works; all are transcriptions from piano music or songs.

The Holberg Suite is stunningly played; nothing rushed nor dragging, vivid dynamic contrasts and a beauty of tone of which the ear just wants to hear more and more! The subsequent Elegiac Melodies are played with a lovely sense of restrained passion (very appropriate for The Wounded Heart) yet with just enough forward momentum so that the musical line never sags. The remaining melodies are presented with comparable taste (and the strings are joined by their oboist in “Evening in the Mountains” from the Lyric Pieces) and together they form a delightful programme of simple yet quite beautiful music.

The BIS recording is exemplary; rarely have I heard such ravishing string sound presented so smoothly with the acoustic expanding so naturally around one in MCH. I cannot recommend this disc highly enough.

(Purchased)

Copyright © 2006 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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