LEIF SOLBERG (1914-2016): For Orchestra: Symphony, Ver Sacrum, Norse March, Pastorale in D (Liepaja Symphony Orchestra; Paul Mann), For Organ: Fantasy and Fugue on the Folk Tune "See the Sun's Beautiful Light and Splendor" (Tim Collins, organ of Lillehammer Church), For Choir: Good Friday Meditation (Solberg Centenary Singers; Marit Tøndel Bodsberg).
Catalogue Number: 01Q008
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0260
Description: This Norwegian composer, organist and choral director was another of the many musicians brought up in late Romantic nationalism who disappeared under the tide of musical modernism after World War II, aided in his case by being somewhat geographically isolated in Lillehammer, three hours by train north of Oslo. Toccata Classics' proprietor has almost single-handedly made Solberg's only symphony available to collectors, from getting the Norwegian Music Information Center to unearth a copy of the score, to interesting conductor Gary Brain to direct a broadcast performance of it on Norwegian Radio in 1998 and, now, this World Premiere Recording. Dating from 1950-51, it was likely inspired by the wartime death of the composer's brother. Terse and direct in its 27 minutes and three movements, it is yet emotionally complex, volatile, quirky and surprising in its course through anger, grief, mourning and an uncertain manic progress through its finale toward a final affirmation of life and hope. The conductor describes its style as "as if the spirit of Grieg were suddenly possessed by the imagination of Carl Nielsen". This and the three short pieces, orchestrations of works for chorus, brass band and organ (in the order printed above), are Solberg's only orchestral pieces. His Fantasy and Fugue (1936) is one of several such piecs which are in the Reger tradition but without the tortured chromaticism and the 23-minute Good Friday Meditation of 1948 is like a Norwegian updating of the choral methods of César Franck. Norwegian-English texts.