World Premiere of a new work by Knut Vaage for one of Norway´s leading cello talents –  with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.

World Premiere of a new work by Knut Vaage for one of Norway´s leading cello talents –  with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.

Amalie Stalheim

All rights Amalie Stalheim

Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester – Grieg Hallen 8. april 2021 7.30 pm.

(live and stream)

Composer: Knut Vaage

Soloist: Amalie Stalheim

Conductor: Eivind Gullberg Jensen



Knut Vaage

Relief, for cello and orchestra

Anne-Marie Ørbeck

Symfoni i D-dur


«Refreshing to have music that challenges; refreshing to have music that plays with our expectations, that takes abstract concepts and translates them effectively into music, that talks of journeys from darkness to light, of journeys from the earthbound to the airborne.»

(About Knut Vaage´s  CD Svev – Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine Aug. 2020)


“… her technical brilliance goes hand in hand with a responsive and personal expression”

(About Amalie Stalheim – Jury of Soloist Prize, 2018)


A well-executed relief is characterized by a precise and detailed representation of the motif; in order to achieve this, familiarity with the subject is crucial.

The main subject of Knut Vaage’s new concerto for cello and orchestra, entitled Relief, is cellist Amalie Stalheim. Despite her young age, she is recognized as one of Norway’s greatest talents on the instrument and has already had solo engagements with orchestras throughout Europe.

Knut Vaage is a friend and colleague of Amalie’s father, Jostein Stalheim, and has therefore known Amalie since birth.

Vaage’s collaboration with the orchestra spans many years and is well documented. The right conditions are thereby in place to ensure a fruitful dialogue between composer and performers – reflections on the theme of dialogue are a central aspect in several of Vaage’s recent works. A soloist needs to listen in addition to driving the music forward. In a listening universe the orchestra is motivated for dialogue by occupying its own space. Background and foreground, and light and shade interact in Vaage’s relief in a poetic and melancholic manner. Contrasting virtuosic solo passages create an undulating dynamic form that we have encountered previously in Vaage’s Orkesterdialogar. To Vaage, dialogue is the most important point of departure towards a better world.

Formally, the work consists of nine short reliefs. These are chiseled out in the form of a pedal-point fundament on the cello’s lowest note, C. Between each relief there is an interlude, although before the final relief, this takes the form of a solo cadenza for the cello – a comprehensive summing-up of the work, worthy of a main subject.

Relief provided Knut Vaage with the motivation to cultivate his orchestral idiom. His aim was to create an idiom that is open to reflection, yet at the same time develops logically in the course of the work’s 25 minutes. His greatest fear was that the ideas themselves might not prove strong enough, but he persisted without altering his basic material, and looks forward to sharing the music with the audience.

The Norwegian Radio Orchestra (KORK) was one of the co-commissioners of Relief, but due to Covid-19 restrictions, the premier performance has been relocated to Bergen. When circumstances allow, the work will be recorded by KORK for a planned TV production and commercial release on the LAWO Classics label. The album will also contain two previously unrecorded works by Knut Vaage, one of which is a violin concerto commissioned by Harald Aadland, concertmaster with KORK.


Lisbet Frøystadvåg /                                                                                                                   English translation Andrew Smith