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Violin Sonata No.1 in F major Op.8

Edvard Grieg (b. 1843 - d. 1907)

Composer
Edvard Grieg (b. 1843 - d. 1907)
Composition Year
1865
Work Movements
1.Allegro con brio
2. Allegretto quasi andantino
3. Allegro molto
Artists
Dénes Várjon [piano], Henning Kraggerud [violin]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

The F major Sonata was the first violin sonata ever to be composed by a Norwegian composer, when Grieg was only twenty-two. It is an inspired work full of youthful high spirits composed in the happy summer of 1865. The great Norwegian patriot Ole Bull had been an early influence, realising Grieg’s talent and insisting his parents send the fifteen-year-old boy to Leipzig for the formal theoretical grounding that Norway could not provide. At that time Norway was still ruled by Sweden and, as in many subject states around Europe, there was a strong nationalist independence movement with roots in the Norwegian folk tradition where the fiddle reigned supreme.


He graduated from Leipzig in 1862 and moved to the happier environment of Copenhagen, which was very much the Nordic cultural capital. There he fell in love with his cousin, Nina Hagerup, who was both a pianist and a singer and he wooed her with songs. His other great friend was the young Norwegian composer, Richard Nordraak, who was a passionate advocate of his country’s folk music and inspired Grieg to devote his genius to Norwegian melody and to create a specifically national art – the sound of Grieg’s violin was to become the sound of Norway and its longing for independence.


All these influences came together to create the flow of delighted inspiration that led to this glorious work. It begins in an extraordinary way with two drawn-out minor chords in the piano before the violin brushes such introspection on one side with an overflowing abundance of one beguiling melody after another. The music sweeps over us in waves, occasionally pausing for breath before conjuring up another idea.


The Allegretto doubles as slow movement and Scherzo, beginning with a gentle, folk-derived tune that is picked out on the piano before the violin takes over. The trio is something else altogether as the violin does its level best to pretend to be a Hardanger fiddle with its extra resonating strings, something that only violinists who have played Norwegian folk music may be able to bring off. The Finale is another high-spirited profusion of melodies, ideas literally falling over each other, with a spectacular prestissimo coda for a showboat conclusion.

Francis Humphrys



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Violin Sonata No.1 in F major Op.8

Composer: Edvard Grieg (b. 1843 - d. 1907)
Performance date: Wednesday 5th July 2017
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Edvard Grieg (b. 1843 - d. 1907)
Work Title Violin Sonata No.1 in F major Op.8
Composition Year 1865
Work Movements 1.Allegro con brio
2. Allegretto quasi andantino
3. Allegro molto
Artist(s) Dénes Várjon [piano], Henning Kraggerud [violin]
Performance Date Wednesday 5th July 2017
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Crespo Series
Duration 00:25:31
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Duo
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

The F major Sonata was the first violin sonata ever to be composed by a Norwegian composer, when Grieg was only twenty-two. It is an inspired work full of youthful high spirits composed in the happy summer of 1865. The great Norwegian patriot Ole Bull had been an early influence, realising Grieg’s talent and insisting his parents send the fifteen-year-old boy to Leipzig for the formal theoretical grounding that Norway could not provide. At that time Norway was still ruled by Sweden and, as in many subject states around Europe, there was a strong nationalist independence movement with roots in the Norwegian folk tradition where the fiddle reigned supreme.


He graduated from Leipzig in 1862 and moved to the happier environment of Copenhagen, which was very much the Nordic cultural capital. There he fell in love with his cousin, Nina Hagerup, who was both a pianist and a singer and he wooed her with songs. His other great friend was the young Norwegian composer, Richard Nordraak, who was a passionate advocate of his country’s folk music and inspired Grieg to devote his genius to Norwegian melody and to create a specifically national art – the sound of Grieg’s violin was to become the sound of Norway and its longing for independence.


All these influences came together to create the flow of delighted inspiration that led to this glorious work. It begins in an extraordinary way with two drawn-out minor chords in the piano before the violin brushes such introspection on one side with an overflowing abundance of one beguiling melody after another. The music sweeps over us in waves, occasionally pausing for breath before conjuring up another idea.


The Allegretto doubles as slow movement and Scherzo, beginning with a gentle, folk-derived tune that is picked out on the piano before the violin takes over. The trio is something else altogether as the violin does its level best to pretend to be a Hardanger fiddle with its extra resonating strings, something that only violinists who have played Norwegian folk music may be able to bring off. The Finale is another high-spirited profusion of melodies, ideas literally falling over each other, with a spectacular prestissimo coda for a showboat conclusion.

Francis Humphrys