Friday, 24 August 2012

Solveig's Song and Edvard Grieg

Edvard and Nina at the piano

The beautiful Villa Troldhaugan

The sunset view from the Grieg family home, what inspiration !

The week has come and gone and as ever, one feels as if one has never been away! When, as I do one is self employed and can in theory work as much or as little as finances will allow, there is much more choice about the nitty gritty of hours and times of day one actually uses.

Because many of my pupils can obviously only come after school or work, I tend to finish around 7 or 8pm. This means that I don't normally start before 1pm, thus, unlike my many years of 'institution' work, I can potter in the morning and spend time at a pace which was very new to me just 6 or 7 years ago.

Indeed it is bliss!

I have given a good deal of Mozart this week, as you can tell from my last post, and a good deal of romantic song. One of my lovely ladies came very enthused about a download which I had sent her of the gorgeous Solveig's Song by Grieg. It is a very atmospheric song with a two part formula. The first section, slow and in the minor key has all the mournfulness of the bleak winter mountains and brrr - ingly cold and icy wind. It always gives me a picture of a heavily shawl wrapped young woman standing in the wind atop of some exposed cliff over looking a fjord, with the blizzard blowing. Then the song magically moves into a section which is a simple Ah for the lyrics, but has a sense of the coming summer and warmth. It is a difficult sing, the syncopated rhythm of the Ah section invariably catches even the best of singer/musicians out, and takes awhile to settle into the Norwegian folk dance feel.
The hardest moment of all however, is the octave jump at the end from A to Top A, at the very end of the phrase when breath is at a premium!

I visited Grieg's home a few miles outside Bergen a few years ago and I was so touched the the homely simplicity of the villa which stands quite majestically high on a mountainside overlooking the very view which so reminds me of Solveig. There is now a small concert hall in the grounds of the house and a small museum. All is tasteful, elegant and small, and the new buildings have grass roofs and blend delightfully into the landscape.

Mostly I was moved by the Grieg family living room. The well used easy chairs and the piano with many a telltale scratch and rubbed patch, where day to day use had left its mark. It was so very Scandanavian, elegant and sparse, well loved and understated.

Much like the music of Edvard Grieg.

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