Nordic Violin Favourites
Carl Gustav Sparre OLSEN (1903 - 1984)
Six Old Village Songs from Lom in Norway (1929)
1. I. Andante [2:13]
2. II. Lento [0:41]
3. III. Allegretto moderato [0:33]
4. IV. Allegretto [0:47]
5. V. Andante [1:43]
6. VI. Moderato [0:58]
Kurt ATTERBERG (1887 - 1974]
Suite No. 3 for violin, viola and string orchestra, Op. 19 (1917)
(Version for two violins and strings)
7. Prelude [2:33]
8. Pantomim [3:41]
9. Vision [4:52]
Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871 - 1927)
Two Sentimental Romances for violin and orchestra, Op. 28(1910)
10. No. 1 Andantino [5:34]
11. No. 2 Allegro patetico [5:06]
Ole BULL (1810 - 1880)
12. Memories of Havana for violin and orchestra (1844) (Violin part reconstructed by Henning Kraggerud) [7:10]
13. A Mountain Vision (1849) [7:41]
Johan HALVORSEN (1864 - 1935)
14. Norwegian Dance No. 3 for violin and orchestra (1914) [4:28]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865 - 1957)
Six Humoresques for violin and orchestra (1919)
15. No. 1 in D minor, Op. 87 No. 1 [3:16]
16. No. 2 in D major, Op. 87 No. 2 [2:22]
17. No. 3 in G minor, Op. 89a [4:01]
18. No. 4 in G minor, Op. 89b [4:08]
19. No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 89c [3:01]
20. No. 6 in G minor, Op. 89d [3:05]
Christian SINDING (1856 - 1941)
21. Evening Mood, Op. 120 (c. 1914) [6:29]
Henning Kraggerud (violin), Dalasinfoniettan/Bjarte Engeset
rec. Kristinehallen, Falun, Sweden, 27-31 May 2011
NAXOS 8.572827 [74:48]

The Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud, now in his late thirties, has had an illustrious international career for more than fifteen years. His discography is long, with an emphasis on Nordic works. He has a fluent technique, marvellously beautiful tone in his 1744 Guarneri del Gesù and unerring musicality. In this delectable programme of Nordic music he mixes the lesser known with standard repertoire; standard from a Scandinavian perspective. Apart from the Sibelius Humoresques I doubt that very much has reached more distant shores. Stenhammar and Atterberg are definitely on the same artistic level. The former’s Two sentimental romances are modelled after Johan Svendsen’s Romance Op. 26, which was written almost thirty years earlier and became very popular. Stenhammar’s Romances are melodically very attractive and noble works without extra saccharin, which is often what ‘sentimental’ implies. In this case Stenhammar used the word in its original sense: full of sentiment = feeling. Atterberg’s Suite No. 3 originates in incidental music for Maeterlinck’s play Soeur Béatrice, thus the somewhat unorthodox titles of the individual movements. This super-romantic music is here recorded for the first time in a version for two violins and strings. Moreover Kraggerud plays both solo parts.
Violinist Ole Bull was the first Norwegian musician to become an international celebrity. ‘The Nordic Paganini’ toured Europe and America for almost half a century. His most famous composition is Seterjentens søndag (The Herdgirl’s Sunday) and it is included in the potpourri Et Saeterbesøg (A Mountain Vision) consisting of Norwegian folk-songs and dances. Los Recuerdos de la Habana (Memories of Havana) is something quite different, written when Bull visited Cuba. While there he picked up Creole folk-songs and dances and put them together in two fantasias. Besides some of Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s compositions these are among the earliest examples of Creole melodies used in classical music. The score and solo part are lost but Kraggerud has reconstructed the work from a set of orchestral parts.
Folk music was also the basis for much of what Johan Halvorsen composed. The Norwegian Dance No. 3 has a slow middle section while the outer sections are a lively wedding dance. Halvorsen was himself a violinist and so was Jean Sibelius. He composed large amounts of music for violin during his study years and his Violin Concerto is one of the most frequently played. The Six Humoresques are excellent compositions - in spite of being published with two different opus numbers Sibelius wanted them to be played as a unit and listening to them that way they form a kaleidoscope of thrilling violin-playing, evocative melodies and colourful orchestral sounds.
Christian Sinding, best known for his piano piece Rustle of Spring, also began his career as a violinist. He wrote quite a lot of music for violin and piano, which Henning Kraggerud has recorded on two CDs. There are also three violin concertos, the first of which appeared a while ago coupled with the Sibelius concerto, also played by Kraggerud. His Abendstimmung (Evening Mood) is rather grand and elevated. It is evocative of a nocturnal atmosphere.
All these composers are known to some extent also internationally but I believe Carl Gustav Sparre Olsen may be a new name to many readers. He is the youngest of seven and the only one not born in the 19th century. He too was a violinist and was inspired by Norwegian folk-music. The six short folk-songs recorded here started life as a piano work. The orchestration - strings only to heighten the impression of fiddlers’ music - is slightly impressionist-influenced and very charming. The province of Lom is situated in the mountainous Jotunheimen area.
I can’t imagine the music on this disc being better played. Henning Kraggerud is no doubt one of the foremost violinists in the world today. He is eminently well accompanied by Dalasinfoniettan under its then chief conductor Bjarte Engeset. The recording quality is excellent and the liner notes by Harald Herresthal are illuminating. A must for every lover of romantic violin music.
Göran Forsling

see also review by David McConnell
(August 2012 Recording of the Month)


A must for every lover of romantic violin music.