Volume 7 of Naxos's Grieg edition focuses on the composer's collaboration in the early 1870s with Bjørnstjerne Bjøornson, the nationalist writer and campaigner for Norwegian independence. The main work is Olav Trygvason, originally planned as an opera on the Norwegian conversion to Christianity in the 10th century. The collaboration foundered, however, long before the score was complete, and all that remains is the prologue, a portrait of pre-Christian Norway that attains a level of musical violence unique in Grieg's output. The choral Landkjenning ("Sighting Land"), drawing on the same body of legend, depicts the Christians' arrival, while Sigurd Jorsalfar is the heart-on-sleeve incidental music (Grieg later dismissed it as rubbish) to a play about the Crusades. Conucted by Bjarte Engeset, the performances are a mixed bag, although the choral singing is excellent. But Olaf Trygvason could be wilder in places and the soloists are decent rather than great.
Grieg: Olav Trygvason; Landkjenning; Sigurd Jorsalfar – review
Tim Ashley is a Guardian classical and opera critic, though he's also keen on literature and philosophy so you might sometimes find him cross-referencing all three. His work has also appeared in Literary Review and Opera magazine and he is author of a biography of Richard Strauss