Sibelius, Sinding

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COMPOSERS: Sibelius,Sinding
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Serenade in G minor; Violin Concerto No. 1; Romance in D
PERFORMER: Henning Kraggerud (violin); Bournemouth SO/Bjarte Engeset
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557266
Naxos has complemented its previous, highly rated, version of the Sibelius Violin Concerto from Dong-Suk Kang with a new one by the young Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud, using an instrument and bow once associated with his great predecessor Ole Bull. Kraggerud takes a conventionally broad view of the first two movements, with sweetly sung melodies, but some insecurity of intonation in passages taken high up on the G string. An unusually fast tempo for the finale brings excitement, but seems to push his technique to its limits. There’s good support from his compatriot Bjarte Engeset and the excellent Bournemouth orchestra, vividly recorded, if with over-prominent trumpets. Altogether, an acceptable budget-price offering, but not one to supplant the best modern versions, let alone Jascha Heifetz’s incomparably urgent and brilliant 1959 account. The couplings are valuable, though, and most enjoyable. As well as Sibelius’s attractive Second Serenade, there are two works by the Norwegian Christian Sinding not otherwise represented in the current catalogue. Like Sibelius a few years later, Sinding planned a career as a violinist before concentrating on composing. The traditional language which he imbibed as a student in conservative Leipzig certainly points up Sibelius’s wild individuality. But his First Concerto of 1898 is not without its surprises: the three movements are linked, the first has only a short orchestral introduction before the soloist swings into action, and the second begins over a solemn 16-bar ground bass. And his Romance is a piece of great lyrical charm, which could well become a radio favourite. Anthony Burton