Really well played, those pieces of Clara Schumann, which proves my point from a few years back, that her music is firstrate, and in my opinion still, alongside other female composers and alongside so-called secondrate male composers whose music has been laying in the shelves, but is actually beginning to enjoy a renaissance.
People like Agathe Backer-Grøndahl from my own country, Catharinus Elling among the men, Hjalmar Borgstrøm, Alf Hurum. David Monrad Johansen is known, but not for early, romantic pieces – a violin sonata and other chamber music has got a fantastic new recording by the Oslo-based ensemble Fragaria Vesca.
I still feel there is sometimes a tendency to overemphasize the classical, European side of this Norwegian music from the romantic period, and even if this side is often a really well done part of the compositions, we also need to hear the real shit of the trolls and the harmonic strangeness not least, which exist in some of these pieces.
It’s often there, but I feel it could sometimes be interesting to experience more of it, to have the courage to be…sorry, more strangely Norwegian and not see this feature as German or European music, just not quite as good…
After all this music was made in a period where nationalism established itself throughout Europe and perhaps wider, and today we could need this base in order not to exaggerate it – as long as we have it, what’s the point of bragging or be afraid of other countries’ culture?
Much of it was meant to explore the special and peculiar sides of a country 100% when it was written, its character as different from others, but of course in a common idiom, a more or less similar style across Europe. Today we can use it for adjustment to other cultures, to tone down sides of our own culture is easier when you feel confident, and one may listen to others without losing oneself totally.
Just a bit.
Here is the first movement of Monrad Johansen’s piano quartet:
His violin sonata also deserves attention. Here is the second movement: