Grieg Violin Sonatas 1-3
Henning Kraggerud (violin)
with Helge Kjekshus (piano)
Naxos 8.553904 66'50".
Leaving aside the indispensable, incandescent historic (1928)
Kreisler/Rachmaninoff recording of No. 3 [MSCM
MM30379], this must be one of the best of the many complete recordings
of Grieg sonatas? I received it for review in conjunction with a memorable
recital at the Wallace Collection in London; their occasional Sunday morning
recital series in the great picture gallery with the Hals Laughing
Cavalier are worth catching - they have a way of discovering the best
younger musicians around. The violinist is in his late twenties, the pianist
mid-thirties. Both are highly regarded in their naïve Norway. This 1996
Naxos recording was made in Hampshire.
Grieg (at the piano) played his violin sonatas as often as possible. The
notes by Oivind Norheim confirm that he was never confident with large-scale
works, blaming (unfairly) his training at Leipzig. The early first sonata
(Op. 8, 1865) is violinistic, though he had no experience of the instrument,
and it introduces some harmonic experimentation and knowledge of the Norwegian
hardanger fiddle. The second sonata (Op. 13, 1867) has a unifying
motif and increasing influence of folk music; Gade thought it 'too Norwegian'!
The third sonata (Op. 45, 1887) was twenty years later, concentrate and darker,
with a particularly expressive middle Romanza.
The performances are intensely committed, excellently recorded and balanced,
and based upon detailed critical study of the sources. If you want all three
Grieg sonatas, this version is a safe recommendation and excellent value.
Peter Grahame Woolf