Kvandal’s protest release

Finally, the Norwegian composer Johan Kvandal (78), one of Norway’s most performed composers has fulfilled his long time dream of having his most important works recorded. He has worked on the case for a long time and finally decided, almost in protest, to use a Russian orchestra.

Norwegian orchestras would charge a staggering fee to record the four works on the CD.

No answer

The solution was St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra “Klassika”. Normally, The Norwegian Society of Composers funds this kind of recordings with fundings from the Arts Council in Norway (Kulturrådet). The society has previously not prioritized Johan Kvandal.

– I applied and did not even receive a reply. When I had violinist Isaac Schuldman apply for me, the project was rejected, Kvandal says.

When Kvandal received the payment from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) for the TV recordings of the opera ‘Mysteries’, he saw the opportunity to release the CD. Violinist Isaac Schuldman, the soloist on the recording, mediated contact with the Russian orchestra. Kvandal heard the orchestra in Hamburg the previous year and was impressed by the level.

– I am very pleased that they would take on the assignment. And I think it’s an excellent recording, Kvandal says.

A key figure in Norwegian contemporary music

Four of Kvandal’s key works have been recorded on the CD ‘Orchestral Works’; Concerto for Violin and Orchestra op. 52, Variations and Fugue op. 14, Sinfonia Concertante op. 29 and Triptychon op. 53. Throughout a long life’s commitment he has aquired the position as a key figure in Norwegian contemporary music. The works on the recording have been performed several times are extensively used.

– I am now 78 years old and will soon be 79. I felt that it was time to have these works released on CD. A cross section of my compositions have never been released in a compilation before.

Why do you think the Society of Composers did not prioritise this release?

– I guess I am not modernistic enough for the avantgardists. I have a certain impression that the Society of Composers do not favor the tonal contemporary music. All music written today is contemporary by definition, but music music might not be sufficiently radical, Kvandal says.


by Rune Skogseth and Bjørn Reese, VG, 16th November 1998