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Johan KVANDAL (b.1919)
Violin Concerto Op. 52 (1979) [28.41]
Ragnar SÖDERLIND (b.1945)

Violin Concerto Op. 46 (1986) [34.03]
Ragin (violin)
Janacek PO/Dennis Burkh
rec. 18-22 Dec 1995, Vitkovice House of Culture, Czech Republic. DDD
CENTAUR CRC 2336 [62.54]

Ragin (pronounced RAH-gin) is not a familiar name. Her full name is Ragin Wenk-Wolff. Her write up indicates that she is primarily active in Norway and Denmark. Her choice of two 'contemporary' violin concertos speaks well of her dedication to music. Her playing on a 1689 Stradivarius is impeccable. She studied with Milstein and Rosand.

The Kvandal is folksy in a way that sometimes speaks of the influence of Nielsen and at other times leans towards the harsher objectivity of Alan Rawsthorne or Bartók. The central movement is unambiguously romantic in a way that all but suggests Heifetz in Korngold. Ragin's flamboyant playing exploits the gypsying rhythmics of the finale. Kvandal studied with Joseph Marx in Vienna, Boulanger in Paris and Tveitt in Oslo.

The Söderlind Violin Concerto is in three 'Pezzi', each carrying a mood qualifier. The first movement was written afresh after the assassination of the Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme. This Pezzo Serioso is splendid, occupying a world in which the violin concertos by Berg and Walton have met. The Pezzo Capriccioso is made of combustible material which true to its nature flames and furies along - at times like the William Schuman concerto without that work's cliff edge monumental qualities. The finale, Pezzo Appassionato, is tense and lyrical with some lovely orchestrational touches as at 2.30 where tinkling bells provide a backdrop to the violinís caustic bel canto. The microphone placement and the acoustic of the Vitkovice House of Culture suit this music very well. A few reservations I had about such issues in the case of Laurence Jeanningros's Scharwenka Centaur disc do not apply here.

Two Scandinavian violin concertos with the Kvandal more folksy than the prickly-inventive Söderlind. If you have a taste for the Nielsen, Rawsthorne and Bartók concertos you will like the Kvandal. If you prefer a strain bred from the Walton, Schuman, Berg and Frankel concertos then the Söderlind is a must-have.

An unaccountably overlooked disc.

Rob Barnett

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