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Sveinung Bjelland

Piano

Pianist Sveinung Bjelland is in the forefront of classical musicians across the whole of Scandinavia. His Simax recording of Scarlatti and Mendelssohn was received with enthusiasm in Norway and internationally and was nominated for the Norwegian Grammy Award (Spellemannprisen 2006).

Musicweb International writes: 'These performances have many subtleties and the imagination of the coupling is reflected in the taste and imagination of the playing.' Classics Today also praises the recording, referring to 'Sveinung Bjelland's cultivated, imaginative, and poetic artistry', concluding: 'No self-respecting piano connoisseur should let this truly distinctive release slip away'.

Sveinung's musical background was honed in Central Europe, through studies with Hans Leygraf at the Salzburg Mozarteum and the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. He finished his studies in Berlin with the highest degree and with distinction, and he put himself strongly on the map in 1999 when he was named 'Young Musician of the Year' by the Norwegian Concert Institute, alongside numerous other prizes he has been awarded.

Sveinung Bjelland

Sveinung has developed into an unusually interesting, prolific and versatile artist. As soloist with leading Norwegian orchestras, under distinguished guest conductors, Sveinung has appeared at many concert series and festivals across Europe where he has made his mark as much as a soloist as in chamber music, performing with - amongst many others - Emmanuel Pahud, Michael Collins, Truls Mørk and Pieter Wispelwey. In October 2008 he made his London debut with an acclaimed Recital at Wigmore Hall.

His duo partnership with the violinist Alina Pogostkin (2005 winner of the Sibelius Competition in Helsinki) has made a particular impact. Together they made a brilliant recording of Mendelssohn's Concerto for Violin and Piano, adding to the pianist's series of very successful recordings which cover a wide and varied repertoire. In duo with Alina, Sveinung recently performed at the Helsinki Festival and at the Beethovenfest in Bonn.

Sveinung greatly surprised listeners with preconceived notions recently by being featured in the violinist Atle Sponberg's concert project 'Atle Live' on tour in Norway, ranging from elegantly played Bach and Mozart to Argentine, Brazilian and jazz piano virtuosity with the greatest of ease, in the latter repertoire sounding as though had only ever played Latin American jazz music.

In addition to being a frequent festival artist, Sveinung was from 2002-2008 director of the Gloger Festival in Kongsberg, when it developed into one of the most interesting of Norwegian music festivals, with the exquisite and inspiring space of the beautiful Kongsberg Church as its main arena.

Sveinung's recording of Schubert's An die Musik with tenor Daniel Behle is on the soundtrack of the new movie "Operation Finale".

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Repertoire

Addinsell, Richard

  • Warsaw Concerto

Bartók, Bela

  • Piano Concerto no.3 in E-dur

Beethoven, Ludwig van

  • Piano Concerto no.1 in C major
  • Piano Concerto no.3 in c minor

Chopin, Frederic

  • Piano Concerto no.1 in e-minor de Falla
  • Nights in the Gardens of Spain

Gershwin, George

  • Rhapsody in Blue

Grieg, Edvard

  • Piano Concerto in a-minor

Haydn, Joseph

  • Piano Concerto no.18 D-dur

Liszt, Franz

  • Piano Concerto no. 2 in A major

Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix

  • Piano Concerto no.1 g-moll
  • Piano Concerto no.2 in d-minor
  • Concerto for violin, piano and orchestra, d-minor

Messiaen, Olivier

  • Concert a quatre

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

  • Concerto for two pianos in E flat major KV 364
  • Piano Concerto No 13 KV 413 in C major
  • Piano Concerto No 20 KV 466 in D minor
  • Piano Concerto No 21 KV 467 in C major
  • Piano Concerto No 22 KV 482 in E flat major
  • Piano Concerto No 23 KV 488 in A major
  • Piano Concerto No 26 KV 537 (Krönungskonzert) in D major
  • Piano Concerto No 27 KV 595 in B flat major

Rachmaninoff, Sergei

  • Piano Concerto no.2 in c-minor

Saint-Saëns, Camille

  • Piano Concerto no.2 in g-minor

Schumann, Robert

  • Klaverkonsert a-moll
  • Konzertstück op. 92

Stravinskij, Igor

  • Konsert for klaver og blåsere

Schostakovich

  • Concerto no. 2 opus 102, F major

Tveitt, Geirr

  • Concerto for two pianos and orchestra (Variations on a Folk song from Hardanger)
  • Piano Concerto no.1

No cuts or alterations of any kind should be made to this biography without the consent of Sveinung Bjelland.

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Website: http://www.sveinungbjelland.com/

CD cover art 1

Brahms: Die Schone Magelone

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Chopin & Schumann: Piano Works

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New South American Discoveries

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Okkehaug - Chamber Works; Piano Works; Songs

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Rachmaninoff / Shostakovich: Cello Sonatas - Sandvik, Audun

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Scarlatti, Mendelssohn: Sonatas

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Schubert: Die Schöne Müllerin & Auf dem Strome Product Image Schubert: Die Schöne Müllerin & Auf dem Strome

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Schumann: Dichterliebe

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Trace of Impressions

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CD cover art 11

Tveitt - Piano Concerto No 5

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Tveitt - Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 4; The Turtle

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Sveinung Bjelland events

25 February 2019: Die Winterreise – Konzerthaus Berlin
With Daniel Behle

2 May 2019: Die schöne Müllerin – Schubertiade Hohenems
with Daniel Behle

'What makes this recording particularly inspirational is how Bjelland precisely varies the expression and reveals the more finely rhetorical essence of the music through brilliant and delicate runs and details, without the approach seeming to be laboured or mere straining after effect. Sveinung Bjelland knows the modern piano's possibilities of colour and caprice.'
Emil Bernhardt, Morgenbladet, 21 September 2018
Schumann: Introduction & Allegro Appassionato, Op 92. Chopin Piano Concerto No 1 in E minor, Op 11
Sveinung Bjelland (pf). Norwegian Radio Orchestra / Christian Eggen
Lawo Classics LWC1149 (DDD) [58 minutes]

In his informative and perceptive booklet-note, Robert Matthew-Walker avers of Schumann's Introduction and Allegro appassionato, Op 92, that it "remains arguably Schumann's most unjustly neglected masterpiece; it contains some of his finest and most original themes and most brilliant piano writing". That might seem odd for a work that has been recorded dozens and dozens of times (there are over 80 issues containing it currently available on Presto Classical's database), yet I do see what he means. The piece is always the bridesmaid, never the main event on disc, a piece to pad out a 'Complete Schumann' anthology or pianist-focused collection. In a sense, so it is here as Chopin's First Concerto takes up the bulk of the disc's not-quite-hour-long duration, yet with one important difference: here it leads out the programme and is of equal importance to it as the larger concerto and no mere filler. Sveinung Bjelland, a pianist new to me, plays this minor masterpiece with great sensitivity and aplomb. The Norwegian Radio Orchestra accompany neatly, the odd rough edge aside, well-drilled by Christian Eggen.

Neither of the Chopin Piano Concertos, both composed in 1829-30, made a lasting impression on me until Ingrid Fliter's marvellous recording for Linn Records with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jun Märkl in 2014. Bjelland has a not dissimilar lightness of touch and a lively refinement of tone that makes his performance almost as persuasive as Fliter's. He is a touch more expansive in the opening Allegro maestoso, rather more so in the central Romanza, his Larghetto pace eventually over a minute and a quarter slower than Fliter's. Honours and speeds are even in the concluding Rondo. Again, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra are not as slick here and there as some accompanying groups (listen to the very first chord, for example) but overall this is a fine account and coupled with the Schumann makes for a fascinating disc. Rather good sound.
Guy Rickards
Schumann: Introduction and Allegro Appassionato, op. 92; CHOPIN Klaverkonsert
Lawo Classics LWC 1149 (58 minutes)

In the sheepish way the classical-recording world has of going over the same old repertoire again and again (I know, I know: I bang on about it all the time), there are currently an astonishing 408 recordings of the Schumann Piano Concerto currently on the market, but only 72 of the Introduction und Allegro Appassionato. There's always room for a reading as considered and thoughtful as this one, too: to my mind, Sveinung Bjelland is one of Norway's most mature musicians, and he brings both clarity and energy to the piece, with like support from Christian Eggen and the players of the Kringkastnings-Orkestret. Chopin's First Concerto comes close after Schumann's in terms of number of recordings: an equally startling 336. For a piece which eschews dramatic contrast, Chopin's E minor Concerto is surprising long: twenty minutes for the first movement, and ten each for the other two – but in this well judged performance, it never occurs to you that the music might be outstaying its welcome. Indeed, Bjelland and Eggen seem to be aiming to underline the sheer originality of the piece, a point made in the unusually insightful booklet text by the British composer and critic Robert Matthew-Walker.
Martin Anderson, Toccata Classics/Toccata Press
Rachmaninoff/Shostakovich: Cello Sonatas
This production is presented by two Norwegian-born musicians (Audun Sandvik and Sveinung Bjelland) to celebrate the music of their neighbor, Russia. These are two of the greatest cello pieces, and they are played here with polish and passion. There have been a number of recordings over the years that combined these two works. One of my recent favorites is by Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O'Riley (Pentatone 5186 608). That is a major program played by major musicians containing also the Prokofieff sonata and other short pieces. If that doesn’t turn you on, this one is fine and will cost less money.
D Moore, American Record Guide
Rachmaninoff/Shostakovich: Cello Sonatas
Sveinung Bjelland is a distinguished pianist but, as a sensitive musician collaborating with an instrumentalist, ensemble or orchestra he is renowned for his ability to form a successful partnership.
PIZZICATO Five star review by Uwe Krusch, January 2018
Rachmaninoff/Shostakovich: Cello Sonatas
Cello and piano are equal partners on this disc, and both players find admirable delicacy. Compelling interpretations of 20th-century Russian classics.
FP, BBC Music Magazine, January 2018
Rachmaninov: Cello Sonata op. 19, Shostakovich: Cello Sonata on. 40, Audun Sandvik - Cello, Sveinung Bjelland - Piano (LAWO Classics LWC 1131) (CD)
It strikes against you from the first note: A plaintive song.

The singing and melancholy are prominent in these two works. Audun Sandvik gets the song, it just appears in his cello.

There is a big age difference between the two composers. Rachmaninov boarded the boat to America - Bergen Fjord - Oslo in 1919 while Shostakovich grew up and remained in the Soviet Union throughout its lifetime. He was also seen as a strong supporter of the regime as his programmatic symphonies (Nos. 7 "Leningrad" and 11 "The Year 1905" in extremely extent) experienced in the struggle against fascism and for socialism. Rachmaninov chose his US citizenship and was thus in many years not played in the Soviet Union.

There is also a certain span of years that separates these two sonatas. Rachmaninov wrote his sonata in 1901 while Shostakovich composed his works in the turbulent 30s. When he had experienced the regime's relentless criticism of his opera Lady Macbeth and pulled consequently his fourth symphony back.

Both composers were at home for many years regarded as not serious enough. Rachmaninov because he lets the seemingly sugary often get prominent role and Shostakovich because he (until Mariss Jansons time in Oslo from 1979) was conceived as a poster artist and propagandist in its tribute by the Soviet regime.

Today it is quite widely conducted. Rachmaninov is considered one of the 1900s great composers and Shostakovich is often perceived as a worthy successor to Mahler.

This is wonderful music. Melodious and highly melodious. It is music that creeps on you and stays there. It invokes the soft sides with us and can actually experienced little sacred.

Two works that are good to each other and two performers who know how to take care of taxes like this.

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Kulturspeilet - Kjell Moe
Stavanger Symphony Orchestra Concert
The Stavanger Symphony Orchestra's programmes in the autumn last year presented many important Schumann works including three of his Symphonies.

On Thursday February 23 this year it was time for one of the composer's less well known and seldom performed works, his Introduction and Allegro Appasionato (Konzertstuck Op.92) to be included in the Schumann Festival. The soloist was pianist Sveinung Bjelland who has a natural delicacy for Schumann as displayed by his perfect retention of the structure and virtuosity of the work without any ill effects. The crucial balance between the piano and the orchestra Bjelland maintained superbly.

This is a work that deserves more frequent programming in the concert hall. Bjelland further delighted the audience by giving a beautifully performed Schumann encore.
Stavanger Aftenblad, 25 February 2017
Trace of Impressions (CD)
"The very opening piano phrase - a round, warm tone as rich as dark chocolate - makes it instantly clear that this is going to be a superior disc, and so it proves. I've long admired Sveinung Bjelland's pianism: it's alert and sensitive and thoroughly intelligent. Andres Kjellberg Nilsson proves just as good a violinist, with an unusual range of colour and effect: the expressive range he brings to the 'Blues' central movement of the Ravel G major Sonata typifies his ability to let you hear more than you realised was there. In a CD of music as well known as the two grand-daddies of French impressionism it's not easy to make the music sound completely fresh, but Kjellberg Nilsson and Bjelland do just that. You can hardly ask for more."
Martin Anderson, Classisk Music Magazine, November 2013
Trace of Impressions (CD)
The program on this new CD is made up of the best known and most frequently performed works by the two great French masters, with two sonatas by Ravel and one by Debussy. Ravel's "Sonata posthumous" is rather rare, but in return we get served the known and beloved audience favorites "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair", "Pavan for a Dead Princess" and "Vocalize in the form of a habanera". The whole release is a delight from beginning to end.

Anders Kjellberg Nilsson was born with a lyrical and poetic vein. His tone is sweet but not sentimental, and he makes music with a sensibility that is both heart stopping as well as grabbing and touching the listener. In Sveinung Bjelland, Anders has found a partner who really is taking note. They match each other perfectly. The sound, signed "Lindberg", provides a natural and clear overall impression and it's interesting to have the Ravel and Debussy sonatas so close to each other. You are amazed at how different they are, despite the fact that they belong to the same musical 'region', and Ravel's 'Blues' is an irresistible creation.
Kjell Hillveg, Dagsavisen (Oslo), April 2014