Johannes Midelfart Rivertz (1908 - 1988) “Spill Og Dans”, piano works / Rune Alver, piano


The discovery of lyrical and interesting music from the middle of the 20th century is always a gratifying one, especially when the composer writes with such a distinctive and alluring style as did Johannes Midelfart Rivertz. The title of this Lawo Classics album, Spill Og Dans, is also the name of Rivertz' most important work for solo piano. Pianist Rune Alver, who has regularly performed this music in recital, has now done much to rescue Rivertz from outright obscurity with the release of the composer's complete collected works for solo piano.

His mother a singer and his first piano lessons coming from his father, Norwegian composer Johannes Midelfart Rivertz (1903-1988) came from a very musical family. A lawyer by profession and later an appellate judge, he composed only exercises for piano for a long time. It was not until he was in his late 40's that he began to devote meaningful time to composition. Still, Rivertz produced a body of music which distinguished himself amply to gain membership in the Norwegian Society of Composers.

Rivertz' music is tonal and quite beautiful. It is not without its own subtle modernity however and it is this that makes it so engaging and interesting. Parallel keys, modal tonalities, melodies and tonal centers that seem to meander yet fall logically and beautifully into place and a certain feeling of spontaneity are all hallmarks of his style. The technical demands he places on the performer are always in the service of musical affect; they are not intended as a display for either the soloist or the composer. There are certainly echoes of Nielsen and Grieg here, but also of composers from the romantic and post-romantic eras, notably Schumann and Debussy.

You can hear all this in the two brief excerpts provided, movements two and three of Three Folk Songs, Op. 3. The music is simply and directly appealing, but can never be described as simplistic. If you're a listener who would enjoy hearing an hour of completely beguiling and original piano music, don't miss this!