Håkon Austbø / Sveinung Bjelland / Ole Kristian Ruud / Stavanger Symphony Orchestra

Geirr Tveitt: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 4 (Northern Lights); The Turtle

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The BIS survey of Geirr Tveitt's works may be eagerly sought by his admirers, but even the most ardent fan may find this CD a disappointment. A student work of uncertain direction and feeble technique; a labored vocal setting of a chapter from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath; and a reconstructed piano concerto of excessive length and vague purpose -- all raise questions of Tveitt's skills, discipline, and taste. The Piano Concerto No. 1 is inoffensive in its gentle melodies and impressionist coloration, but its lack of virtuosity makes it a somnolent affair. The Turtle is an extremely tedious narrative for mezzo soprano and orchestra; nearly every phrase of Steinbeck's unedited text is underscored with blatant tone painting, and the declamatory vocal part is uninspired. The Piano Concerto No. 4, "Northern Lights," is the most ambitious work, but Tveitt takes three meandering movements to render his picture of the Aurora borealis when one would suffice. Pianists Sveinung Bjelland and Håkon Austbø are adequate in their respective concertos, and Ingebjørg Kosmo deserves credit for perseverance in the torturous Turtle, if not for great singing. The Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, directed by Ole Kristian Ruud, is sufficiently engaged, but Tveitt's scores present many long stretches of inactivity. The sound quality is acceptable.

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