ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 43

Haunting and sparkling music of a humanist

On March 30, the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka will perform three major works by Edvard Grieg, the great Norwegian composer as part of this year’s international recognition of his work and life, 1843-1907.

The Grieg Centenary Concert will feature his ever popular Piano Concerto in A minor with Soundarie David as soloist, his lovely Peer Gynt Suite No.1 and the delightful Holberg Suite for strings. The concert, which brings together Norwegian music and Sri Lankan musicians, is supported financially by the Royal Norwegian Embassy. The conductor will be Ajit Abeysekera.

Edvard Grieg wrote his Piano Concerto when he was twenty- five and was the soloist at its first performance in 1869 at Copenhagen. It was an immediate success and is now one of the most famous of all Romantic piano concertos. The outer movements sparkle and dance whilst the second movement is a hauntingly expressive Adagio.

Dramatic and technically demanding, the Concerto requires virtuoso playing of a high order. But it has been said ‘Grieg paints with notes’ and the soloist has to balance bravura display and brilliance with lyrical tenderness to bring out the Concerto’s underlying poetry and Grieg’s almost impressionistic gift for sound painting.

Grieg’s surpassing pictorial and descriptive powers are evident again in his Peer Gynt Suite No.1, based on the incidental music he composed for a stage production of Ibsen’s great dramatic poem Peer Gynt. Its first performance at Christiania (Oslo) in 1876 made Grieg a national figure. Morning evokes a lovely pastoral mood, while The Death of Aase is full of pathos. Anitra’s Dance has an oriental touch. The last item, In the Hall of the Mountain King depicts Peer Gynt being chased by trolls, having wandered into the subterranean realms of the Mountain King.

Grieg’s Holberg suite was composed in 1884 to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of the Norwegian dramatist Ludvig Holberg. The work, which is in five movements based on baroque dance forms, imitates the style and forms of the 17th century, reflecting the subtitle of the piece ‘From Holberg’s Time’. It will be played by a cello ensemble.

Grieg’s music is deeply poetic and has a strong individuality, which is reflected in his character and beliefs as well. An active humanist, he was a defender of freedom, democracy, justice and the rule of law. Grieg regarded art as an important means of expressing individual identity, and solidarity amongst human beings. He believed that artists play a key role in the struggles to have every person treated with respect, and to end all discrimination.

The Concert will be at 7.30 p.m. on March 30 at the Ladies’ College hall. Tickets, reserved and unreserved, which are free of charge are available from Titus Stores, Liberty Plaza or the new SOSL office, tel. 2501209.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.