Grieg's "Norwegian Dances"
Dārziņš's "Melancholic Valse"
Conductor: Johanne Grønkjær Lorenzen
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Notes from the conductor
In the winter program of 2021, KUSO will engage in different kinds of dance music. Opposite of Sibelius' magnificent 5th symphony, which KUSO performed in the late autumn of 2020, the winter program consists of small, dense pieces that can seem modest in minutes and pages. But the orchestra must in a short time adjust between different moods, time periods and cultures when we travel from the Norwegian cliffs to the Spanish court.
In both Valse Melancolique by Emīls Dārziņš and Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane we experience the more subdued and calm dances. Emīls Dārziņš did not manage to write many works in his short life, and he mainly wrote choral music. Though, he wrote one single orchestral work – this little waltz.
Fauré did not consider his Pavane to be anything special – not a bad thing either – but it was very popular both at the time and afterwards. Originally the piece was written for piano and choir, but in this project, it is played in the orchestral version.
When playing this slow Spanish court dance, the orchestra must have the composure to play it slowly. The piece should not just be thought of as a dance, but in fact as a procession, and carry the floating well-known melody forward on top of the simple accompaniment.
The orchestra's task is completely different when engaging in Strauss’ Künstlerleben, and the wonderful collection of waltzes really should bring the listener to the big balls in Vienna. Here, the orchestra must switch between different expressions throughout the piece and at the same time try to achieve a light and waltz-like character.
Edvard Grieg's Norwegian dances was originally written for 4 hands piano, but we will play it in Hans Sitt's fantastic orchestral version. The dances are in Grieg’s typical style, that is seen in many of his compositions, namely beautiful themes often presented in the A-B-A form.
The simple form may lead one to think that it is easy music. But simple music also requires a lot from the orchestra; the beautiful melodies and harmonies show us around Norway – both in the mountains, in the woods, and for the harvest festival – and the orchestra must constantly follow along and change moods accordingly.