Edvard Grieg: In Autumn
Edvard Grieg composed his concert overture, In Autumn in 1865. The work is inspired by Autumn landscapes that Grieg enjoyed in his homelands. The overture takes the listener through a number of different sections, each showcasing a different highlight of Autumn. Although seldom heard in the modern concert hall today, In Autumn is a great showcase of Grieg’s orchestration skills.
In Autumn begins in a sunny D major, with big orchestral chords sweeping across the score. The bright and light contrasting woodwind theme breaks the tension somewhat, although these two elements soon build together to create a slow burn of tension. A shift into D minor in the ‘Allegro’ section marks a change in the overture. The bright melodies, bold brass and overt percussion create drama and excitement as Grieg develops and passes the main theme through all sections of the orchestra.
A shift into F major sees a second theme emerge through the woodwinds. The bombastic lower brass add a sense of frivolity to the music, as the contrasting string section to come brings the return of an early, more sombre theme. Led here by the horns and strings, this quieter section is intricate and rooted firmly in Grieg’s classic style.
For a large proportion of the rest of the work, the music begins to recap on all of the themes previously heard. The themes start in different sections before being masterfully handed somewhere else. This shows Grieg’s fantastic handling of the orchestra, which was something he was known for during his career. In Autumn comes to a brilliant close as the opening woodwind theme returns once more after the full orchestral forces have come to full fruition.
Ⓒ Alex Burns