Friday, February 21, 2003


Of course we go on holiday to get away. But we don’t want to get away from sources of good music, do we? Yet it is often difficult to access something a little more discerning in more remote locations. Since one of my regular holiday haunts is Cornwall, I was pleased to discover ‘The Cry of The Gulls’, a craft shop and gallery in nearby Fowey which specialises in fine ceramics, painting, sculpture and jewellery – but which also has a small collection of classical CDs. Tony Jones, who has been running the shop with his wife Jeannette for a number of years, said in October 2002 that they were about to launch a website, and here it is. Worth a visit. The homepage refers to CDs, but there’s no web section on their stock as yet.

The popular choices are there, of course. But one or two exotic finds (by high street standards) are also possible. Last time I dropped by I picked up the Naxos recording of Geirr Tveitt’s Piano Concerto No 4 (‘Aurora Borealis’, 1947) and ‘Variations on a Folksong from Hardanger’ (1949) for two pianos and orchestra [N8555761, July 2002] . What a superb discovery. A colourful Norwegian idiom, folk influence and lingering nineteenth century romanticism are part of Tveitt’s sound world, naturally.

But while far from avant garde, these are not backward looking works. They have an exploratory, cosmopolitan feel. The composer, well known for his exhaustive Greig analysis and love of Brahms, also experienced much personal tragedy. It was this, perhaps, that kept his harmonic nerve sharp and stopped him slipping into sentimentality. This disc has been well reviewed (BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone and elsewhere) and it was one of my own favourites of 2002.

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, long associated with Michael Tippett among others, give an excellent account of themselves here, and on ‘A Hundred Hardanger Tunes’, Suites No 2 and 5 (Naxos 8555770, February 2002). Both are under the baton of Bjarte Engeset. Naxos also offer the First and Fifth Tveitt Piano Concertos (N 8555077, September 2001).

“Sounding like a Scandanavian Villa-Lobos and sharing the Brazilian master's fountain of melody and masterful orchestration[, t]his is some of the most physically exciting music you will ever hear: a mercurial musical rollercoaster.” (

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