Grieg Violin Sonatas

Exclusively on Apple Music from February 21st 2020


“The violin tone of the young Norwegian Eldbjørg Hemsing has something spacious, immediate, unseen, nothing pretentious about it … [Eldbjørg] plays so brilliantly and convincingly in her “mother tongue” that it must captivate everyone. The violinist’s joy in inventing music is demonstrated by her fine variations …”

Süddeutsche Zeitung

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Following acclaimed recordings of concertos by Dvořák and Shostakovich, by Tan Dun and Josef Suk, the Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing returns to her roots in this Grieg recital, joined by Simon Trpčeski at the piano.

Each of Edvard Grieg’s violin sonatas marks a decisive phase in the composer’s artistic development. He completed the F major Sonata at the age of 22, while still trying to break free from the heady influences he had received during his training at the Leipzig conservatory. The work still bears the stamp of German romanticism, but it also includes references to Norwegian folk dances and Hardanger fiddle techniques, features that were perceived as ‘a breath of fresh air’ when the work was premièred. Two years later, in 1867, Grieg had become deeply involved in the project of constructing a national culture, as part of the movement for an independent Norway.

In his Sonata No. 2, he exploited national characteristics far more consistently than before and his Norwegian audience reacted with great enthusiasm. Grieg’s final ‘crime for the violin’, as he described it, was the Violin Sonata in C minor, composed 20 years after Sonata No. 2 and the last piece of chamber music that he completed. He was now an internationally respected composer, pianist and conductor and the sonata reflects this new stage in his life, which Grieg himself described as having a ‘wider horizon’. Closing this disc, Eldbjørg Hemsing plays her own composition ´Homecoming´. It is a set of variations on a tune from the valley where she grew up, as well as a friendly nod to Grieg, who used the same tune almost 150 years ago in his large-scale Ballade Op. 24.

Returns to the roots

It was already in my early childhood that I became aware of the connection my family had to the work of Edvard Grieg. It was to be some years before I fully understood the story my mother had told me about my ancestor from Valdres passing on a folk tune that was used by Grieg. When Grieg returned from his studies in Leipzig, one of the first people he showed his compositions to was his godfather, Ole Bull.

His first response was reportedly something like: ‘well, this is all good, Edvard, but this is not your voice. You have to travel to the countryside to find your true Norwegian sound’. Grieg did listen to Ole Bull – but, since travelling in those days was very time-consuming, he searched for folk tunes via collectors. In 1848 LudvigMathias Lindeman received funding from the Collegium academicum of Christiania (Oslo) University to collect folk tunes and, during his travels acrossNorway, stopped in my home valley of Valdres.

There he met my great-great-grandfather Anders Nielsen Pelesteinbakken, who sang a tune to him. Lindeman notated the tune and Grieg later found it in Lindeman’s collection of folk tunes. And that little fragment of the folk tune must have caught the attention of Edvard Grieg, who used the melody as the inspiration and main theme of one of his greatest works for solo piano, the Ballade, Op.24.

Folk music was a major presence and influence when I was growing up, and for as long as I can remember I wanted to create a work that would showcase this beautiful melody and celebrate the tune from my home valley and my ancestors. Homecoming, my very first short piece for solo violin, is included on the present recording as a celebration of the musical heritage of my family and my valley.

Eldbjørg Hemsing

Review

SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG

“The violin tone of the young Norwegian Eldbjørg Hemsing has something spacious, immediate, unseen, nothing pretentious about it. This goes wonderfully with the three violin sonatas by Edvard Grieg. Hemsing and her piano partner Simon Trčeski do not doubt for a second the quality, intensity, imagination and touching beauty of this music, which is pulsating with a sense of landscape, natural sensations and passion. One can really say that [Eldbjørg] plays so brilliantly and convincingly in her “mother tongue” that it must captivate everyone. The violinist’s joy in inventing music is demonstrated by her fine variations on a folk tune.”

20. Januar 2020

Online Merker

Fascinating is the dream-like cooperation between Eldbjørg Hemsing and Simon Trpčeski in dynamics and pace, the ball being delivered and picked up, the artful dribbling, the gestural liveliness of their interaction.

12. February 2020