Sibelius: Early works for violin and piano, Vol. 2

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Early works for violin and piano, Vol. 2
PERFORMER: Jaakko Kuusisto (violin), Folke Gräsbeck (piano)
The first volume in this series covered Sibelius’s school years at Hämeenlinna (1883-5). This newcomer encompasses the years in Helsinki, when he was a pupil of Wegelius, together with his years in Berlin and Vienna (1889-91). The main pieces are the Suite in E (1888) and the Sonata in F (1889), both of which have been recorded before on Ondine. Neither betrays too many glimmers of what was to come, though Sibelius’s idiomatic writing for the violin is already in place. There are several fragments including a rather beautiful Tchaikovskian Lento in E flat minor that are all first recordings. The F major Sonata shows Sibelius still very much under the spell of Grieg. The disc also includes four short pieces for solo violin that constitute his complete output in this field; two of them (including the G major Romance) are from his maturity. Those with a special interest in the composer’s early development will doubtless be grateful for a chance to satisfy their curiosity, though this is obviously of specialist rather than general interest. The performances by Jaakko Kuusisto and Folke Gräsbeck are highly accomplished and well recorded. Robert Layton