TAKING A FRESH LOOK AT SÆVERUD’S SECOND AND THIRD STRING QUARTETS
Summary: A research project by Ricardo Odriozola
This project was about revisiting Harald Sæverud’s string quartets Nos. 2 and 3, Op. 52 and 55. The intention was to publish commented critical editions. Since there was no previous extant research work on Sæverud’s string quartets made, either from a musicological or from a performative point of view, Odriozola found it necessary to include other compositions by Sæverud in his examination. These were primarily other works for string instruments. Recordings of the violinist Trond Sæverud, the composer’s grandson, and background literature about Sæverud were studied.
In the 1990s, Odriozola had extensively performed Sæverud’s three string quartets and recorded them in 1996 together with “Hansakvartetten”. Several years of private and professional contact with the composer informed these recordings. In addition to correcting misprints in the manuscripts, the project aimed to analyse the expressive marks and their possible meanings, and to readjust the flows of energy and tempo variations according to what Odriozola referred to as ‘Sæverud’s spirit’. Plausible answers to ambiguities in the musical text became an issue. All expressive means in the scores were re-examined in the course of the project.
Approaching authenticity here entailed respecting the spirit of the music (by assimilating ideals and associations received directly from the composer), while attempting to achieve the highest possible degree of accuracy with regards to the musical text. In the question of authenticity, does spirit take precedence over the letter?
Conversations with the artistic research group challenged long-established views regarding Sæverud´s music.