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Customer Reviews

Second tier Norwegian composer

A great violin virtuoso, Johan Halvorsen has been pretty much overshadowed by his countryman Edward Grieg in the pantheon of Norwegian composers. In his day Halvorsen was acclaimed for his skills as a violinist and made a name for himself as a composer of theater music. There’s a generous sampling of his theater music as well as a symphony and two pieces for violin and orchestra on this recording.

One of Halvorsen’s most famous works, the Entry March of the Boyars, opens the recording. It’s a fun bit of fluff that boasts some colorful orchestration and features a particularly effusive triangle part. If you like splashy orchestral vulgarity, this is the piece for you. The Andante religoso and La Mélancolie are works for violin and orchestra that are little puffs of air that don’t make a case for Halvorsen’s skills as a fiddle virtuoso, but do mark him as a purveyor of top-drawer schmaltz. The extended theater work is a Suite from Mascarade (a comedy by Holberg). Once again, Halvorsen’s vivid orchestral palette is highlighted and there are a couple of pleasant tunes, but it mostly reminded me of second-rate 19th century ballet music. On the other hand, the Symphony No. 1 in C minor is quite good. Halvorsen muzzles his vulgar tendencies and delivers a warmly Romantic work that really deserves wider recognition. Fans of Tchaikovsky and Dvorak will love it.

Neeme Järvi leads the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in outstanding performances that honor the music much than it deserves.


Born: June 7, 1937 in Tallinn, Estonia

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Neeme Järvi was one of the busiest stars on the international conducting scene. Brought up within the USSR's system for developing musical talent, Järvi studied percussion and conducting at the Tallinn Music School. He made his debut as a conductor at age 18. From 1955 to 1960 he pursued further studies at the Leningrad Conservatory, where his principal teachers were Nikolaï Rabinovich and Yevgeny Mravinsky. From the early '60s, Järvi took a leading role in the musical life of his homeland. In...
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Halvorsen, J.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1, Neeme Järvi
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