Ole Bull: Violin Concertos

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COMPOSERS: Bull
LABELS: 2L
WORKS: Saeterjentens Søndag; Violin Concerto in A; Concerto Fantastico; I Ensomme Stunde; La Verbena de San Juan; Et Saeterbesøg
PERFORMER: Annar Follesø (violin); Norwegian Radio Orchestra/Ole Kristian Ruud
CATALOGUE NO: 2L-067-SABD

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Two more intriguing releases of Norwegian repertoire from the marvellously inventive 2L label. Both offer exceptional recorded sound, with the listener being truly immersed in the music in surround sound. As with earlier 2L sets, there are two discs, one with blu-ray audio, the other a hybrid SACD.

The music of virtuoso violinist and composer Ole Bull will be new to many outside Norway, but he was a major figure in the 19th century. Born in 1810, he was lauded across Europe by figures such as Berlioz, Schumann and Liszt for his ability to combine exceptional technique with emotional insight.

The major works here are Bull’s two violin concertos, which have only recently been rediscovered. Like the works of some other virtuoso performer composers, they are rather episodic in nature, but it is clear that Bull had a keen melodic gift, as well as exceptional mastery of the violin, including four-part writing.

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Annar Follesø does a sterling job of bringing these works vibrantly to life, with barely a blemish in his beautiful bel canto tone despite the numerous leaps into the stratosphere. The Norwegian Radio Orchestra gives excellent support under Ole Kristian Ruud, and the only caveat being that there could occasionally be a little more drive. Among the accompanying shorter works, the miniature that opens the set, Saeterjentens Søndag, are especially sublime.