David Monrad Johansen was central in the development of a nationally oriented music during the interwar period in Norway. His Piano Quartet, Op. 26 and the incidental music for “The Great Peace” was composed during this period. To this day they have just existed in manuscript form, and this recording is the first recording ever to feature these two works.
Pining for Nordland
n November 1913, Monrad Johansen finished his first and only Violin Sonata. The sonata was given a lukewarm reception at the time – hard to understand when heard today. For the composer himself, the elegiac second movement was an example of how the longing he felt for his childhood home-county Nordland could be expressed musically, a longing which for him would become a source of inspiration and a creative force throughout his life.
Hulda Garborg and Hiawatha
The writer Hulda Garborg made a journey to the USA in 1913. Here she became occupied with the fate of the Indian culture, and subsequently worked for three years with a large lyrical drama about the peace-loving Sioux-chief Hiawatha. Commissioned by Det Norske Teatret, Monrad Johansen began setting music to the drama, but the work was never realised on stage. Besides a version for mixed choir of the movement “Indiansk kjærlighetssang” (“Indian love song”), the music has rested in the archives of the Norwegian Natonal Library – until now.
Piano Quartet and Flute Quintet
The 1940s was a troublesome time for the composer, due to his membership in the Norwegian fascist party, Nasjonal Samling, and the post-war sentence for treason. The Piano Quartet, Op. 26, was written during his imprisonment, inspired by thorough studies of fugues by Bach, Händel and Reger, and Beethoven´s string quartets. The Piano Quartet is a hidden gem in the Norwegian chamber music repertoire of the 20th century. In 1967, Monrad Johansen was asked to contribute a musical piece to the Norwegian Society of Composers´ 50th anniversary, for which the composer wrote a grand Flute Quintet. It was to be his penultimate work, a piece of music which undoubtedly shows a composer forever searching for new musical expressions with imaginative development even to his very last years.