Performing Sæverud’s piano pieces at Siljustøl and the University Aula


During my project, I performed some of Sæverud’s piano pieces at the composer’s home, Siljustøl, and in the University Aula. Both venues affected my interpretations in different ways. In the large Aula – with an audience of approximately 100 people - I intuitively used more pedal to project the sounds and paid less attention to details and nuances. In the living room at Siljustøl – an intimate setting with approximately twenty people - there was more focus on the value and effect of articulation, rubato, and dynamics. The baby grand piano (Boston) at Siljustøl had a more intimate sound than the sonorous Steinway D-model in the Aula. It became clear that Sæverud’s piano music needed a sense of intimacy and a mode of listening between performer and audience. When this acoustic was established it became possible to play without pedal and bring out shades of non-legato and silences between gestures. The dryness of the room at Siljustøl did not make me use more pedal to compensate for the lack of acoustics. Instead, I trusted my belief that my new expressive means would communicate adequately. See RESEARCH QUESTION NO. 3 for audio recordings.



Performances of Sæverud’s string quartets Nos. 2 and 3 occurred at the following places: Gunnar Sævigs sal (Grieg Academy), Siljustøl (composer’s home) and Grieghallen foyer. The following videos show performances of the quartets at different stages of development in different venues.

SEE VIDEO 1 (in sidebar) Harald Sæverud: “String Quartet No. 3”, 1st movement (excerpt)

  • Recorded at Gunnar Sævigs sal, Grieg Academy, October 19th, 2018
  • Performed by Vladimira Ščigulinská (violin), Oddhild Nyberg (violin), Ricardo Odriozola (viola) and Carmen Bóveda (cello).

This video shows the ensemble at approximately one-and-a-half months into the process of learning the music. The performance took place at a familiar venue with amenable acoustics.


SEE VIDEO 2 (in sidebar) Harald Sæverud: “Quartet No. 2”, 2nd movement (excerpt)

  • Recorded at Siljustøl, Sæverud’s home, May 5th, 2019

  • Performed by Oddhild Nyberg (violin), Vladimira Ščigulinská (violin), Ricardo Odriozola (viola) and Carmen Bóveda (cello).

The ensemble performed the entire 2nd String Quartet in the Siljustøl living room. It is a small, intimate venue. One senses that Sæverud is “listening”, as we are playing music that was composed there. This video shows the ensemble towards the end of their working period. It was the first time that the three younger players had played there.


SEE VIDEO 3 (in sidebar) Harald Sæverud: “Quartet No. 2”, 3rd movement (excerpt)

  • Recorded at Grieghallen foyer, May 30th, 2019

  • Performed by Oddhild Nyberg (violin), Vladimira Ščigulinská (violin), Ricardo Odriozola (viola) and Carmen Bóveda (cello).

This video is from the final performance which these players gave as an ensemble. The audience was mixed and international and the venue was acoustically problematic. The performances at the Grieghallen foyer in May 2018 and May 2019 both marked the end of a year-long process. The foyer acoustic is problematic, because though the audiences can enjoy a satisfactory sound coming from the stage, the players have trouble hearing each other as a group. One feels somewhat isolated from one another. Performing this demanding music there, any earlier in the process, would have been highly hazardous. By the time these performances took place the ensemble was so well acquainted with the music and with each other that they were able to produce commendable performances with accuracy and in the spirit of the composer. Having previously performed the works at other venues, certainly proved to be valuable experience at that stage.



Changing sites

During our working process, we made an experiment by imagining changing “sites” through different instrumentation. The thought was that the chosen format could become a new site and be perceived as an abstraction of a setting in which the chosen material would unfold itself into different “rooms”. We made an example of the experimental approach to sites with excerpts from scores and videos. How does a specific idea develop when moved between different formats? What is a site in our project?


An important plan for this project was to focus on small musical cells that were found during our “comprovisation” etudes. Could these small cells, placed in different textures, create different “rooms”, in the same way as performers adapt to different physical sites? Our small cells (or fundamental raw material) were moved from piece to piece, texture to texture. Here is an example of one strict idea which moves several times into new musical surroundings:


First site: “Etude No. 1” for solo cello

Second site: “Svev” for piano trio (page 9 in score)

Third site: “Hybrid Experience” for cello, piano and electronics (page 4 in score)

Fourth site: “Hybrid Spectacle” for cello, ensemble, electronics, and visuals (pages 68-69 in score)


The first example highlights the specific effect of first tapping strings with an object (sul tasto - sul pont) followed by making glissando on strings with the same object. The first two situations (“sites”) are acoustic, while the last two are with electronics. Follow the way the sound landscape changes “sites” through different instrumentation, scaled from the intimate to the spectacular.


First site

for solo cello, without electronics. Tapping/glissando object changes from metal to glass to wood. There is a room for improvisation within a strict framework.

SEE SCORE (in sidebar): “Etude No. 1”

YouTube “Etude No. 1” (J. Ehde)

  • Performed by John Ehde in studio

  • Filmed and edited by Isabel Odriozola

  • Sound recorded by Davide Bertolini


Second site

for piano trio without electronics. Tapping/glissando object changes from metal to glass to wood. There is room for improvisation within a strict framework.

SEE SCORE (in sidebar): Svev” page 9

SEE VIDEO 4 (in sidebar): Fragment from “Svev”

  • Recorded at Tårnsalen, KODE 4, March 11th, 2018

  • Performed by Valen Trio (Ricardo Odriozola, John Ehde and Einar Røttingen).

  • Filmed by Isabel Odriozola and sound recording by Gunnar Herleif Nilsen.

Third site

for cello, piano and electronics. Lots of improvisation, freely.


SEE SCORE (in sidebar): “Hybrid Experience” page 4, rehearsal number 3 from second line

SEE VIDEO 5 (in sidebar): Excerpts from "Hybrid Experience

  • Recorded at Griegakademiet, Studio A, April 11th, 2019 Composer: Knut Vaage, Co-composers: John Ehde og John Hegre.

  • Performed by JJ&K in studio (John Ehde, John Hegre and Knut Vaage).

  • Filmed and edited by Isabel Odriozola. Sound recording by Davide Bertolini.


Fourth site

for solo cello, ensemble, with electronics and visuals. Medium amount of improvisation, gradually becoming freer.


SEE SCORE (in sidebar):Hybrid Spectacle" page 68-69

SEE VIDEO 6 (in sidebar): Fragment from "Hybrid Spectacle"

  • Recorded at Studio Bergen. March 7th, 2020
    Composer: Knut Vaage, Co-composers: Thorolf Thuestad og John Ehde

  • Performed by BIT20 Ensemble at Borealis 2020 with soloist John Ehde, conducted by Trond Madsen.

  • Sound design, Thorolf Thuestad. Visuals, Birk Nygaard.

  • Film/editing, Marius Søreide. Sound recording, Gunnar Herleif Nilsen


S C R O L L   D O W N




Further reading about the research question No. 4:

How do different performing contexts - such as concert venues, relationships towards audiences, and recording sessions - influence the use of expressive means and the artistic result in relation to expressivity and the performer’s artistic intentions?