reports from the Bergen Festival:

“If this were only the kind of international festival you might get elsewhere – and it’s still a big “only” where Bergen’s flagship fortnight of theatre, dance, art and music is concerned – your correspondent would have little of idiosyncratic cultural value to offer in exchange for swanning off to one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. What drew me in the programme, though, were two unique and probably unrepeatable concerts put together by local boy made more than good Leif Ove Andsnes, a pianist who keeps being showered with international awards but who now, with three young children to think of, wants to concertise less, spend more time in his home town and impart his experience to a new generation of musicians.

“The first of the core events devised by Andsnes in collaboration with the festival’s ambitious, progressive Danish director Anders Beyer was a very novel way of celebrating the 150th birthday year of Sibelius, featuring melodramas – the singular fusion of spoken voice with instruments – by that surprisingly prolific composer I haven’t heard live before nor am likely to again in the near future. In the second Andsnes “and friends” played Kurtág and Liszt on, among other instruments, the Steinway presented to Edvard Grieg in 1892 and still lodged in the summer villa just outside Bergen where Norway’s greatest composer spent so much time with his beloved singer wife Nina in the last 22 years of his life …”

Read the full review online at