As If Donning a Rococo Wig: Listening and Noting

Would there be sampling here?

Fanfarinette / Rameau

Holberg Suite, Op. 40: III. Gavotte / Greig

I unfortunately don’t read music and go by my faulty ear but there may here be a musical intertext.

What the ear discovered, the researcher finds reflected in notes by Bjarte Engeset (translated by David Gallagher) accompanying a Naxos offering of recording of the Holberg Suite:

For the celebrations in 1884 of the 200th birthday of Ludvig Holberg (1684–1754), ‘Norway’s Molière’, both Grieg and Svendsen composed cantatas, and in Denmark Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817–90) wrote his four-movement suite Holbergiana, Op. 61 (1884). But it is the suite Grieg wrote the same year, Fra Holbergs tid, Op. 40, that is still frequently performed today. Its title literally means ‘From Holberg’s Time’, though it is usually known in English just as the Holberg Suite. For Grieg this was an exercise in ‘concealing his own personality’. He had worked especially hard to find his own voice; now he needed to adapt to completely different styles—as if donning a Rococo wig! So much of his music grew from the ambience of the natural world, but here the background is historical and cultural. The mixture of styles in the suite gives the performers room for different interpretations: how much ‘Grieg’ and how much Baroque and Rococo should there be in different performances? There are other tensions in the music too: between French and Italian models, and inspiration from a wide range of composers such as the Scarlattis, J.S. Bach, Handel, Couperin and Rameau. To my mind this is a case of pastiche where the composer’s own identity is not lost. The distance between Baroque music and Norwegian folk music is not so great, and Grieg had worked a lot with dance forms, so he was by no means in completely unfamiliar territory. The suite shows his international side while at the same time the musical language is extremely ‘Griegian’. The original version, written in July and August 1884, was for piano. In the string orchestration he made later the same year, much of the idiomatic piano writing was completely changed and reimagined for the strings, and with different metronome markings.

Here is indeed sampling (and thanks to Naxos for putting the notes online).

And so for day 2925

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