On 7 & 8 March Londoners get a rare opportunity to surround themselves in an all Norwegian programme when Leif Ove Andsnes plays three concerts at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, alongside the exhibited art work of Nikolai Astrup.
“My introduction to the Dulwich Picture Gallery came about through the planning for the new exhibition featuring the work of acclaimed Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup (1880 – 2918). Astrup grew up and lived most of his life in a remote area a few hundred kilometers North of my own home in Bergen, remaining true to his roots and creating paintings which transformed the rugged landscape into a colourful mass of life.
“When I was asked if I would curate and perform two programmes to tie in with the exhibition it was a request that was irresistible to turn down. Not only is it an opportunity for me to introduce audiences to some of Norway’s lesser known composers but also an exciting chance for me to introduce two new wonderful young Norwegian artists who join me for for both concerts – Guro Kleven Hagen (violin) and Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad (viola).
“As Nikolai Astrup represents a peak of romantic painting in Norway, this is also the starting point of our musical programs for the concerts at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Grieg, Halvorsen, Svendsen and Sinding all represent the patriotic national romanticism, music with national identity, but still with a classical background, strongly influenced by their German education and influences. The next generation tried to free themselves from this German heritage and, with composers like Tveitt and Brustad, we often hear a more direct link to the folk music. Tveitt was quite critical to Grieg`s handling of the folk music, which for him was too romanticized. Probably because of Norway being a young country, only gaining our independence in 1905, the Norwegian composers held on to national identity and folk music influence for quite a long time, longer than in most of the rest of Europe. Only when Arne Nordheim appeared as a pioneer in the sixties, did things change, and we developed a contemporary music scene with a more international outlook. Contemporary Norway is here represented by one of Nordheim`s later pieces, Fracture for solo viola (2001), and with Klaus Sandvik`s Classical Brace (2009) for solo violin.”
Source: Dulwich Picture Gallery