The work of Fartein Valen has a strange way of finding its way out to the audience. It is fair to say
that his violin concerto and symphonic poems are quite well known around the world (and of course
found in the Simax Classics catalogue, together with the symphonies). Arve Tellefsen’s recordings of the concerto has of course given this work a special significance in our times, but young composers also often refer to Valens approach as a model for their own compositional work.
The first release of Valen complete songs
So if you have not made your acquaintance with the works of Fartein Valen before, then the chance is there now with this first release of his complete songs. Norwegian soprano Siri Torjesen has worked with the songs of Valen for many years towards this recording. Pianist extraordinaire Håkon Austbø follows her in the songs with piano, and Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra with Christian Eggen provides the wonderful colours Valen used when writing for the orchestra and song.
The texts Valen uses are by Goethe, Schiller, Whitman, Mörike and Bethege. Throughout it is evident that it is not only in shaping of musical ideas he is inspired by the lyrics, but also that the textual contents are reflected directly in the fabric of the music. Valen’s lasting love for the music of J.S. Bach has left distinct imprints in the compositional style, perhaps contributing to that eternal flavour Valen’s music undoubtedly has. After a long period of difficult working conditions, he was among other things put in the centre for the Norwegian atonality-debate in the 1930s, Valen experienced international acclaim after the Second World War.
Soprano Siri Torjesen comments on her experience with Valens music:
– Many performers dream about finding their “own” music – something that holds a very special meaning for them. Valen’s songs have become my “own” personal treasure trove. They hold every kind of challenge I could possibly want to encounter. They have a constant ability to reveal themselves in new, unexpected ways, as though I am hearing them for the first time. Valen’s music makes the poems glow with an extraordinary power and passion, and helps to imbue them with an almost volcanic pressure. The texts are constrained within a strictly polyphonic form, with orchestration that makes the voice an integral part of a vivid tapestry.