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Romance
Otto MALLING (1848-1915)
Concert-fantasie, Op. 20 (1885) [15:55]
Peter Erasmus LANGE-M▄LLER (1850-1926)
Romance for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 63 (1899) [8:43]
Ludolf NIELSEN (1876-1939)
Romance for Violin and Orchestra in B Minor, Op. 20 (1908) [7:37]
Berceuse for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, Op. 9 (1905) [4:52]
August ENNA (1859-1939)
Romance for Violin and Orchestra in G Major (1898) [6:30]
Barcarole arr. for Violin and Orchestra (1898) [3:00]
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Fantasistykker, Op. 2, FS 8; No. 1, Folk Tune, (1890) arr. for Violin and Orchestra by Hans Sitt (c.1891) [3:53]
Louis GLASS (1864-1936)
Violin Sonata No. 2 in G Major, Op. 29; II Romance, arr. for Violin and Orchestra by Glass (1904) [11:36]
Niels GADE (1817-1890)
Capriccio in A Minor, arr. for Violin and Orchestra by Carl Reinecke (1878) [10:11]
Johan SVENDSEN (1840-1911)
Romance for Violin and Orchestra in G Major, Op. 26 (1881) [8:13]
Christina ┼strand (violin)
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra/Jukka Iisakkila
rec. October 2019, Turku Concert Hall
DACAPO 6.220652 SACD [80:38]

Christina ┼strand has invariably proved an idiomatic and stylish guide to Nordic music and her native Danish repertoire in particular. She is as assured in concertos (see review where she plays Lange-Muller, Langgaard and Gade) as she is in sonata repertoire (see review of the Gade sonatas) and indeed beyond. Now it’s time for a series of orchestrally-accompanied romances, of longer or shorter duration, some arranged from various works, and four pieces making their first ever appearance on disc – both the works by August Enna, Hans Sitt’s Nielsen arrangement and Louis Glass’ own arrangement and expansion of his Violin Sonata’s slow movement.

The biggest work in terms of duration is Otto Malling’s Concert-fantasie, Op. 20, a beautiful, unruffled piece that Kai Laursen included in volume 4 of his exhaustive Danish Violin Concertos series, though of course it’s not a concerto as such. Unruffled, yes, though it does open with slightly oppressive presentiments that are soon swept aside in favour of terpsichorean felicity. This elegant and joyful work, which includes a kind of Danish tarantella has freshness and verve and is played with real refinement and fine balance here. It may well be my own preference for a more direct, linear approach that inclines me to the (significantly more poorly recorded) version by Laursen.

Gade’s Capriccio was written in 1878 for violin and piano and he had no time to orchestrate it for a stipulated performance, work duly carried out by Carl Reinecke. The resultant piece was later taken up by Joachim. Commissioned for the wedding of the Saxon king in Dresden it’s a well-argued and well-structured piece, full of violinistic frolics as befits a violinist-composer, but also a work that prizes grace and a romantic Mendelssohnian sweetness. Perhaps Gade was downplaying it as a Capriccio; a Concertante is perhaps nearer the mark. The only other work to breach the ten-minute mark is the Glass sonata arrangement. This Romance has soaring lyricism predicated on folk melodies, and a real sense of ardour, but Reinecke is canny enough to distribute material to the orchestra, especially the winds. The result is both genial and grand.

Of course, a succession of Romances runs the risk of monotony, one that’s avoided by virtue of variety and novelty. The premiere recordings are presented as a bloc, not distributed throughout the programme, so Enna’s Romance – ripe with lyric intensity but also athletic legato - and his Barcarolle, which runs on sheer charm, preface Nielsen’s Fantasistykker, Op. 2, No.1. This was originally cast for oboe and piano but the Czech-German Sitt, a famous figure of the time and a professor at the Leipzig Conservatoire, crafts a finely orchestrated arrangement.

Of the remaining pieces, two are by Ludolf Nielsen. The Romance is modal-melancholic with an antique air that generates incremental speed. The other is a Berceuse, gentle, and dedicated to Fini Henriques, replete with a Hardanger-type B section and a rapt ending. The programme ends with the best-known piece of all, one that used to be in the knapsack of most fiddlers, Svendsen’s Romance, played with genuine tenderness here and making a fitting envoi.

The burden falls mainly on ┼strand but the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and Jukka Iisakkila provide deft, painterly support. With fine notes, the refined charms of this disc can be warmly recommended and there are some nice black and white photographs in the booklet, the cover of which is a rather bewildering globe.

Jonathan Woolf

 

 



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