My favorite things Norwegian

1. Film: The 1989 Pathfinder is one of the best "unknown" movies, why is there no DVD reissue? 

2. Classical music.  My favorite Grieg recording is Lyric Pieces, by Emil Gilels.  Mostly the composer bores me, but if you get the piano concerto try Dinu LipattiPeer Gynt reminds me of a bad coffee commercial, which in fact it once was.  For contemporary composers, Arne Nordheim is consistently interesting.

3. Jazz: Norway is now a world leader in this field; start with the Tord Gustavsen Trio, Changing Places.  Here are more resources.  That said, Jan Garbarek has never thrilled me.

4. Playwright: Almost everything by Ibsen is superb, and yes it does repay a rereading.  Too many smart people had A Doll’s House forced on them in high school and then take him for granted.  His fantasy piece Peer Gynt is one of the most imaginative literary creations, period.

5. Novels: Knut Hamsun was a fascist, still Hunger holds the reader’s attention.  My favorite is Sigrid Undset; Kristin Lavransdatter is long but a must-read.  Ole Rolvaag’s tales of the American frontier often have interesting property rights themes.

6. Pianist: Leif Ove Andsnes is remarkably consistent and tasteful.  HÃ¥kon Austbø is a strong and underrated runner-up, I love his Messiaen on Naxos.

7. Soprano: Kirsten Flagstad, anything by Wagner.

8. Economist: You’ve got Trygve Haavelmo and Finn Kydland, both Nobel Laureates, plus Ragnar Frisch; the overall slant here is technical.  I also enjoy the social science books of Jon Elster, a political scientist by training but a polymath by nature.

The bottom line: In almost every category the top offerings of Norway are underrated or at least underexplored.


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