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Carl Gustav Sparre OLSEN (1903-1984)
Metamorfose, Op. 80, no. 2 (1982) [05 :08]
Øistein SOMMERFELDT (1919-1994)
Mini-Suite for Cello Solo, Op. 43 (1976) [03:43]
Arne NORDHEIM (1931-2010)
Clamavi (1980) [11:00]
David Monrad JOHANSEN (1888-1974)
Suite for Cello and Piano, Op. 24 (1943, rev. 1968) [18:40]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 36 (1883) [27:29]
Frida Fredrikke Waaler Wærvågen (cello)
Ingrid Andsnes (piano).
rec. 2017, Sofienberg Church, Oslo
LAWO RECORDS LWC1150 [66:03]

Frida Fredrikke Waaler Wærvågen is a young Norwegian cellist who has studied with a panorama of Norwegian musicians, including Trules Mørk, Aage Hvalbein and Frans Helmerson. She has won a variety of awards and on this disc she demonstrates not only her musical abilities but her programming skills too. She presents a wide survey of Norwegian music for cello, much of it for cello solo, from the well-known Grieg Sonata to a work for solo cello by Arne Nordheim, perhaps the most prominent Norwegian composer of the post-WW II era.

Oistein Sommerfeldt’s ‘Mini-Suite for Cello Solo’ is ‘mini’ not only in its length of less than four minutes but in its having been written for a child (in 1976), Aristea Carridas, and the work has a child-like sensibility. In spite of the brevity of the suite, it comprises four movements with a charmingly simple second movement and a third movement that goes much deeper, before a brisk finale. A work that would serve as an encore for any cellist.

The long-lived David Monrad Johansen went through a variety of styles in the course of his career. His Suite Op. 24 demonstrates his nationalist tendencies with folk- and dance-like elements predominating, as in the opening Fantasia, whereas the Aria is almost like a cavatina from an early 19th century opera. The Danza is more substantial than its title might suggest and the Elegi which follows is the highlight of the Suite. It begins passionately and proceeds to a noble central section and then a thoughtful reprise of the opening material. The Finale is rather Schumannesque and ends with reminiscences of motifs from tall the preceding movements and an almost Classical coda.

In Metamorfose the nationalist composer Sparre Olsen creates a mono-thematic work that barely rises from its opening sadness, yet is very satisfying. Very different is Arne Nordheim’s Clamavi for cello solo [review]. Nordheim originally intended this piece as a preparatory study for a cello concerto but the piece grew in importance to Nordheim and eventually became one of his most personal statements.

Grieg’s Cello Sonata is well-known. It was written when the composer was almost forty and had neglected composition for some time. The opening Allegro agitato demonstrates the composer’s ability to combine folk-like material with classical procedures. The Andante takes music from the composer’s music for Sigurd Jorsalfar and develops it in ways one would never have expected from hearing the original material – demonstration of the composer’s compositional talent – before ending with a breath-taking coda. The third movement begins spiritedly but proceeds to a gentle second theme before a powerful finale that makes one wish the composer had been healthy enough to write a cello concerto.

Frida Fredrikke Waaler Wærvågen is definitely up to the task of putting over the variety of styles exemplified by the pieces on this disc. She has the technical ability and the emotional depth required for each of these works, as well as fire and conviction. She also has a fine sound, especially in the lower register and her tempi are usually completely appropriate. My only major objection relates to the first movement of the Grieg when she seems to lose control of the musical argument for a short time; there are also some harsh sounds in the Sommerfeldt. Ms. Wærvågen gets able accompaniment throughout from Ingrid Andsnes and they are recorded in admirably clear-cut sound. An enterprising choice of music, well-played and recorded by all involved.

William Kreindler

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