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Nordic Rhapsody

Johan Dalene (violin), Christian Ihle Hadland (piano) (BIS)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Nordic Rhapsody
Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 1; Stenhammar: Two Sentimental Romances; Sinding: Suite ‘im alten Stil’; plus works by Nielsen, Rautavaara and Sibelius
Johan Dalene (violin), Christian Ihle Hadland (piano)
BIS BIS-2560 (CD/SACD)   68:24 mins

Not content with convincingly recording two major concertos aged 19, the Swedish violinist Johan Dalene (currently a BBC New Generation Artist) promptly recorded this recital just after he had turned 20. Youthful passion occasionally pushes him to stylistic excess (his portamento slithering makes Sibelius’s ‘Souvenir’ wobble like a drunkard), but for most of the time he’s beauty incarnate and in perfect step with his composers’ various voices. He’s also blessed with a superbly understanding piano partner, Christian Ihle Hadland, who proves especially magical in the Grieg Sonata, poetically tapering phrases and effortlessly navigating changing dynamics.

Norway in this programme comes in all shapes, moods and sizes. Sinding’s Suite gets Dalene’s bow rocking right from start in homage to Baroque figuration and the grand Bach manner, while Stenhammar plumps for gentle restraint in music whose modesty is a key part of its appeal.  Rautavaara’s Notturno e danza sends the violin mystically floating and scampering into the skies, reflecting shifting landscapes and light. Both the Sibelius and Nielsen items find these great composers marking time, though Dalene and Hadland rewardingly draw out the pensive charms of Sibelius’s ‘Tanz-Idylle’ and ‘Berceuse’. The final spot deservedly goes to the buoyantly youthful Grieg sonata: conventionally German in its structural framework, but very Norwegian in the middle, with folk fiddling and rhythms bursting in, much to the musicians’ relish.


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Geoff Brown