Rosand in Norway
Christian SINDING
Suite for violin and orchestra [12:37]
; Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso [9:51; 9:01]
Klaus EGGE
Violin Concerto (1953) [30:51]
Edouard LALO
Symphonie Espagnole
Sérénade Melancolique
op. 87 No. 1 [2:16]
Saeterjentens Sondag
Aaron Rosand (violin)
Norwegian Radio Orchestra/Sverre Brulund
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Karsten Andersen (Egge only)
rec. Norwegian Radio, studio except Egge which is live with audience. 1975-80, ADD
VAI VAIA 1240-2 [59:57 + 61:30]
The sound from these Norwegian Radio-derived tapes (1975-80) has a tremendous vitality about it. They capture Rosand in truly stunning form. His musicality shines like a bright beacon from every bar of the Sinding Suite, a work which hitherto I have found rather faceless and dull. On the contrary here Rosand makes the work sing its auburn heart out. His joy in his own playing is evident one aspect of which is his supremely slippery portamento. You don't always get that from the greatest names. In this he is touchingly joined at 5:05 by the leader of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra. This is transcendent music-making. Havanaise and the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso are almost as good as the Sinding. They are warmly and intimately recorded with every pizzicato from the orchestra and every piece of timpani punctuation tellingly rendered. The all-conquering zest of the first movement of the Sinding can also be heard in the second Saint-Saens work. It's not just exhilaration - it's musicality.
Klaus Egge's Violin Concerto (1953) espouses a singing melodic propensity, aspiring to the unachievable. In this work the recording quality is not quite as good. In any event it was made in concert with a true concert-hall acoustic and one or two coughs as corroborative evidence. The orchestra is the Bergen Phil with Karsten Andersen. Rosand learnt the concerto during 1974 while staying in his home in Italy. It's a fascinating work having parallels with the Walton Violin Concerto and with the Second Prokofiev. Egge's spinily athletic lyricism suits Rosand to a tee though - surely because of the acoustic - he does not sound as succulent here as in the other tracks. I wonder if Rosand ever tackled the Walton; it would have suited him like a glove. There is applause at the end of the Egge. Make a note to look out for other Egge works. I wonder if they are available anywhere.
Turn then to CD 2 for a hair-raising experience in the shape of the Lalo. It’s quite counter to the prosaic hygiene of so many studio 'spectaculars'. Rosand is again on glorious form with breathtaking attention to dynamics and musical tone even when the celerity of his playing leaves the listener in awe. He also fulfils the purple and scarlet blooming seductions of a troubadour serenader. Lalo's Rondo-Allegro finale is just so - tense and on tip-toes - perfect in every respect. This is exceptional violin-playing.
Sverre Brulund was much more than a mere stick-waver as he matches Rosand's imagination without vying for the centre-spot. If this is representative of Brulund it's time Norway Radio began issuing other Brulund-conducted pieces. The radio tape and disc archives are being seived for every celebrity conductor's Beethoven this or Brahms that. Time for Brulund to step forward.
This second disc ends with shorter pieces though as blooms they are overshadowed by technical problems. The Tchaikovsky Sérénade Melancolique is still a bloom but with a regrettable blip in the recording just towards the end. The Sibelius Humoresque op. 87 No. 1 is spun silver. Such a pity that Rosand and Norwegian Radio did not tackle the other five at the same time. The Humoresques are exultantly fine Sibelius as you can hear if you listen to the early Turnabout collection of all six. Rosand is a magician. We are driven to acknowledge that he takes what seem to be delicious little liberties with this gem - a slur here, a tremble of vibrato there, a melted transition - a liquid slide into a smile. Had Philips ever launched a violin edition parallel to their Great Pianists of the Twentieth Century series they would have had to license this from VAI or face accusations of the project being patently incomplete: res ipsa loquitur.
There are clusters of dropouts in the last few tracks of CD 2 (Humoresque, Zigeunerweisen and Saeterjentens Sondag). Such a pity.
The affectionate notes are by Rosand himself.
This is exultantly elite violin playing from a too easily and certainly unjustly neglected master of the instrument.
Rob Barnett
Exultantly elite violin playing from a too easily and certainly unjustly neglected master.