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After a one and a half hour journey from Bergen airport the “Hardangerfjord Express Boat” sails into harbour – a small village set in a green valley below the dramatic mountains that rise steeply behind it.

Here in 1661 Ludwig Rosenkrantz and his young wife Karen began to create a lavish manor house and garden which they called Rosendal and, in 1678, their estate was to be given the unique status of the only Barony in Norway by King Christian V of Denmark and Norway. Today the house and its beautifully kept gardens offer visitors a glimpse of Norwegian history in one of the country’s most spectacular natural settings.

For pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, this is the perfect location for a new chamber music festival, which he launched in August 2016 together with the inauguration of a new concert hall at Baroniet Rosendal Manor House and Gardens. Alongside performances in the manor house itself, the four day festival features concerts on the new stage – a concert hall with 400 seats, converted from an original barn on the estate. Additional evening concerts take place in the white-washed 13th century Kvinnherad church whilst lectures and open discussions are offered during the day.

Leif Ove Andsnes has been a regular visitor and performer in Rosendal for over 20 years. “Baroniet Rosendal is a very special place” he commented “and music has been a part of its cultural life for generations. Its incredible to think that artists and musicians have been crossing the fjord for over three hundred years and amongst them were apparently both Edvard Grieg and Ole Bull – our Bergen musical legends.”

This year’s Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, which was scheduled to take place from 6 – 9 August, had to be cancelled due to covid 19 and government limitations on gatherings. The final concert of the four day event was scheduled to include a world premiere performance by Norwegian composer and saxophonist Marius Neset. As delaying a composer’s new work by two years felt particularly sad, Leif Ove Andsnes, proposed that the new work be retained as the centre point to a single programme which also featured Beethoven, in small recognition of the composer’s 250th anniversary. The closed concert performed by Norwegian artists including both Andsnes and Neset was filmed for broadcast on NRK TV in October 2020 and will be released internationally at a date to be confirmed.