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BACKER GRØNDAHL, AGATHE (1847–1907)

Piano Works


  • Sara Aimée Smiseth, piano

Hailed by George Bernard Shaw as one of the 19th century’s greatest virtuoso pianists, Agathe Backer Grøndahl was also a pioneer among women composers, juggling marriage, motherhood and an extensive career. She was taught by Liszt in Weimar, and as one of Norway’s most respected composer-pianists, created a large body of work that displays colourful stylistic variety and poetic breadth. The beautiful Sérénade from Trois MorceauxOp. 15 may well be Backer Grøndahl’s most popular piano composition, but her concert études are virtuoso masterpieces – the folk-tune arrangements drawn from her Op. 30 and Op. 33 sets illustrate her perceptive absorption of her country’s folk music. The remarkable fairy-tale suite I blaafjellet, Op. 44 is possibly the first impressionist piece by a Norwegian composer.

Tracklist

2
3 Morceaux, Op. 15: No. 1. Sérénade in F Major () (00:02:43)
3
Études de concert, Op. 57: No. 1. Allegretto (1903) (00:03:13)
 
6 Idylles, Op. 24 (1888) (00:02:00 )
5
6 Idylles, Op. 24: No. 1. Allegretto leggiero (00:02:17)
9
6 Idylles, Op. 24: No. 5. Allegretto tranquillo (00:03:11)
10
6 Fantasistykker, Op. 66, "Barnlige Billeder" (Children Pictures): No. 1. Ride, ride Ranke () (00:01:00)
12
3 Ungarske studier (3 Hungarian Studies), Op. 38: No. 2. Intermezzo () (00:02:40)
13
10 Fantasistykker, Op. 39: No. 1. Souvenir (1896) (00:01:59)
15
4 Skizzer (Sketches), Op. 19: No. 1. Allegretto leggiero (1886) (00:02:27)
 
8 Norske folkeviser og folkedanse, Op. 33 () (00:02:00 )
11
8 Norske folkeviser og folkedanse, Op. 33: No. 3. Laat i Fjellet (00:01:34)
14
8 Norske folkeviser og folkedanse, Op. 33: No. 8. Bruralaat (Valdres) (00:01:35)
16
8 Norske folkeviser og folkedanse, Op. 33: No. 1. Halling (00:00:51)
18
8 Norske folkeviser og folkedanse, Op. 33: No. 6. Springdans (Vinje) (00:01:09)
 
11 Norske folkeviser og folkedanse, Op. 30 () (00:03:00 )
4
11 Norske folkeviser og folkedanse, Op. 30: No. 1. Brudeslaat (Lom?) (00:03:18)
6
No. 9. Siklebækken (Møllargutten) (00:02:57)
7
No. 10. Kivlemöyerne (Møllargutten) (00:02:41)
8
No. 11. Fanitullen (Møllargutten) (00:02:01)
19
11 Norske folkeviser og folkedanse, Op. 30: No. 5. Springdans (00:00:34)
 
Suite, Op. 20 (1887) (00:19:00 )
1
Suite, Op. 20: I. Prélude (00:03:13)
20
Suite, Op. 20: II. Nocturne (00:03:52)
21
Huldreslaat (Dance of the Huldra) (1886) * (00:02:01)
 
12 Smaa fantasistykker, Op. 55 () (00:03:00 )
17
12 Smaa fantasistykker, Op. 55: No. 4. Et Farvel (00:01:56)
22
12 Smaa fantasistykker, Op. 55: No. 9. Romance (00:01:06)
23
I blaafjellet (In the Blue Mountains), Op. 44: II. I Trollhallen (1894) (00:04:40)
24
6 Concert Etudes, Op. 11: No. 4 in B-Flat Major (1881) (00:06:37)
* World Première Recording
Total Time: 00:59:35

The Artist(s)

Sara Aimée Smiseth Sara Aimée Smiseth was born in 1986 in Oslo, Norway. She pursued her musical education at the Norwegian Academy of Music and the Royal Conservatory of Brussels with professors Einar Steen-Nøkleberg, Einar Henning Smebye and Jan Michiels. She also has a bachelor’s degree in musicology from the University of Oslo. She has toured Scandinavia as well as the United States and Canada giving lecture-recitals – a combination of virtuoso piano playing and captivating storytelling. She regularly plays with some of Norway’s foremost choirs and is also a pianist and a lecturer at the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. This is her first recorded solo album.

The Composer(s)

Agathe Backer Grøndahl Agathe Backer Grøndahl was a pianist and composer of international stature. Born in Holmestrand, Norway, she took lessons with Hans von Bülow in Florence and Franz Liszt in Weimar. Her output contains over 400 songs, piano pieces and Norwegian folk song arrangements. The fleet-footed Humoresque in G minor from 3 Morceaux, Op. 15 (1882) is rhythmically witty, with natural charm and vitality.