BBC Music Magazine

Johan Dalene’s dynamism makes for a delightful disc

The young violinist continues to impress with this very passionate performanc­e, says Geoff Brown


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 Hadland 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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Viola Sonatas, Op. 120; Zwei Gesänge, Op. 91*, etc. *Matthias Goerne (tenor), Antoine Tamestit (viola),

Cédric Tiberghien (piano) Harmonia Mundi HMM 902652 50:22 mins

Antoine Tamestit and Cédric Tiberghien claim that their chosen instrument­s for these recordings – a specially loaned Stradivari­us viola, and a vintage-1899 Bechstein piano – ‘actually redefined our approach to this music.’ Perhaps from their point of view, but the end result for the listener is more contentiou­s than they surely intend. Tamestit’s viola is a wonderful instrument for sure, offering a keening intensity quite different from the over-inflated tonal heft preferred by some of his present-day colleagues. In this company the Bechstein piano sounds odd, with a strangely matte tone (as if its una corda ‘soft’ pedal were permanentl­y deployed) and less in the way of compensati­ng tonal options one might have expected.

If you can accept this curious sonic mismatch (or at least find it intriguing), the playing of these two fine artists offers high-class musical riches at every point, Tamestit finding a ceaseless range of tone-colours that always sounds natural rather than contrived. Having a Brahms song played after each sonata works nicely in terms of simpler lyrical contrast; and both aspects then come together in the beautiful pair of Op. 91 Gesänge for voice, viola and piano, sung by Matthias Goerne with his trademark unaffected warmth. Malcolm Hayes




Cello Sonatas Nos 1-3;

Seven Arabesques

Raphael Wallfisch (cello),

John York (piano)

Nimbus NI 8105 74:38 mins

Martin ’s three cello sonatas are masterpiec­es of the repertoire that have been gratefully taken up by many players. Recordings range from the ‘old masters’ (in this

Christian Ihle proves especially magical in the Grieg Sonata

context) Sa a Ve tomov and János Starker to Steven Isserlis, who has recorded them twice, and this latest release comes from the regular partnershi­p of Raphael Wallfisch and John York.

The sonatas are all mature Martin : No. 1 was written amid personal and political turmoil in Paris in 1939, Nos 2 and 3 during the composer’s early years in America. The cello and piano are equally important in this music, though the piano carries a particular burden in the rhythmical­ly mobile Third Sonata, perhaps the most overtly Czech of them all. The shifting ground is not a matter of simple syncopatio­n, and here York is at a disadvanta­ge compared to Josef Pálení ek (for Ve tomov) and Rudolf Firku n (Starker). But Wallfisch and York do bring their own sense of clarity to the music, with the cellist finding the lyrical impulse and using his strongly projected tone to sustain long lines.

The earlier Arabesques, more straightfo­rwardly entertaini­ng, are added to make a generously full programme. John Allison PERFORMANC­E ★★★★


Rodrigo Ruiz

Violin Sonata; A Riveder le Stelle; Piano Trio

Kerenza Peacock (violin),

Laura van der Heijden (cello),

Huw Watlkins (piano)

Signum Classics SIGCD664 58:25 mins On first hearing Rodrigo Ruiz, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled on a forgotten score from the 19th century. Unabashedl­y tonal, this is music firmly rooted in the vocabulary of Brahms and Beethoven. Yet the works featured here were composed in the last four years and Ruiz himself is a spritely 32 years old. Such steadfast devotion to the old masters in contempora­ry compositio­n is certainly not to all tastes, but Ruiz’s music is mostly well-crafted and this disc is beautifull­y performed.

Ruiz’s Violin Sonata yields few surprises, bar a fiery third movement which presents itself as a dramatic finale, before the work then closes with an affecting Adagio (performed with particular grace and poignancy by Karenza Peacock and Huw Watkins). There follows

A Riveder le Stelle for violin and piano, inspired by Canto XXXIV of Dante’s Inferno where Lucifer emerges from an icy mist. The duo conjures a suitably unsettling atmosphere here, even if the score at times lacks direction. The disc concludes with Ruiz’s Piano Trio in A major which owes much to Brahms in its florid textures and harmonic shifts.

Ruiz’s staunch adherence to older styles may seem disconcert­ing, but these excellent performanc­es nonetheles­s make for an enjoyable listen. Kate Wakeling PERFORMANC­E ★★★★


Il Cannone – Francesca Dego plays Paganini’s violin

Kreisler: Recitative and Scherzo Caprice, Op. 6; Paganini:

Cantabile for violin and piano,

Op. 17; Rondo La Campanella (arr. Kreisler); Szymanowsk­i: Paganini Caprices, Op. 40; plus works by Boccadoro, J Corigliano, Rossini and Schnittke

Francesca Dego (violin),

Francesca Leonardi (piano)

Chandos CHAN 20223 64:03 mins

Il Cannone, the legendary Guarneri violin on which Paganini performed some 200 years ago is now a museum piece, if a living one, kept in the town hall in Genoa, the city to which it was bequeathed by the virtuoso, under the watchful eyes of six security guards. Every now and then, it is gingerly removed from its glass casing – a finely choreograp­hed manoeuvre of white gloves and hushed voices, one imagines – and run through its considerab­le paces, as here in 2019, by Italian-american violinist Francesca Dego.

Dego eschews an all-paginini repertoire in this refreshing programme, instead choosing works inspired by the virtuoso’s own, with the idea that the violin, briefly freed from its case, will play new music as it would have done in Paganini’s lifetime. Along with long-time recital partner Francesca Leonardi, Dego plays arrangemen­ts of Paganini by Kreisler, works inspired by Paganini by Rossini and Szymanowsk­i, alongside new commission­s from Carlo Boccadoro.

If Dego exploits the instrument’s deep warm sound in the recitative of Kreisler’s own Recitativo und Scherzo-caprice, the brilliance in the higher register is heard in the Scherzo. Dego has an expressive touch, skittering over the strings, yet finding plenty of attack in Szymanowsk­i’s Trois Caprices. Corigliano’s Red Violin Caprices are at times spellbindi­ng, descending into a guttural, harried chase. Leonardi accompanie­s sensitivel­y throughout, not least in the judicious tinkling of the Boccadoro arrangemen­t of Paganini’s Cantabile. His new work, Come d’autonno, premiered here, is bleak, atmospheri­c and unsettling, Il Cannone reverberat­ing expressive­ly in Dego’s hands, as it once did for Paganini. Sarah Urwin Jones PERFORMANC­E ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★

A French Connection

Chausson: Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet in D;

Debussy: Preludes, Book 2 – selection; Franck: Violin Sonata Daniel Rowland (violin),

Natacha Kudritskay­a (piano)

Champs Hill CHR CD157 78:58 mins

One of the most remarkable French chamber works is also among the hardest to programme. Full of ardent lyricism, Chausson’s Concert for violin, piano and string quartet is part slimmed-down double concerto, part expanded piano quintet and part supercharg­ed violin sonata, but entirely a masterpiec­e. Unlike some chamber-oriented alternates, this new version pairs it with the Sonata by Chausson’s teacher, Franck, and unquestion­ably places violinist Daniel Rowland at the forefront, conceptual­ly and sonically. While the pianist is Rowland’s regular partner Natacha Kudritskay­a, the string quartet is bespoke, its members not even named on the front or back covers. Nonetheles­s, there is a palpable sense of enthusiast­ic collective musicmakin­g from violinists Francesco Sica and Asia Jiménez Antón de Vez, violist Joel Waterman and cellist Maja Bogdanovi .

The Concert ’s vast emotional sweep is conveyed with a natural awareness of the ebb and flow of its intense passions. The slow movement is expertly paced, from the tightly-controlled supplicati­on at the opening via the climax’s fervent outpouring to enervating subsidence at its exhausted conclusion. Rowland’s ability to sustain an arching melodic line with searing intensity is evident both here and in the Franck, while Kudritskay­a’s finely judged pianism impresses no less. The Sonata is beautifull­y played with plenty of character, with delectably veiled tone from both players in the

first movement. Three Debussy Preludes in generally effective arrangemen­ts by Craig White provide a palate cleanser between Chausson’s and Franck’s rich offerings, though, unfortunat­ely, ‘Canope’ and ‘Bruyères’ are listed the wrong way round. Christophe­r Dingle PERFORMANC­E ★★★★


Piazzolla Reflection­s

Piazzolla: Bandoneon Concerto ‘Aconcagua’; Histoire du Tango:

Café 1930; etc. Plus works by Akhunov, Angelis, JS Bach,

Roffi and Voitenko

Ksenija Sidorova (accordion), Alexander Sitkovetsk­y (violin), Claudio Constantin­i (piano), Roberto Koch (double bass), Reentko Dirks (guitar); Goldmund Quartet; BBC National Orchestra of Wales/clark Rundell; NDR Elbphilhar­monie Orchester/thomas Henglebroc­k Alpha Classics ALPHA664 80:52 mins

A bandoneon is operated by a set of buttons, an accordion by keys and buttons. Yet whatever the instrument, the essence of

Astor Piazzolla’s sultry, bitterswee­t music remains unchanged, offering listeners a choice of hot tangos, slower melodic meditation­s and not very much in between. Ksenija Sidorova varies the diet with differing instrument­ations, four contempora­ry pieces and the slow movement of Bach’s BWV 974, adapted from an oboe concerto by Alessandro Marcello.

Even if Piazzolla fails to cast the spell clearly experience­d by Sidorova herself, the artistry of this Latvianbor­n musician and her instrument­al colleagues still makes this album worthwhile. Dynamic shifts and the sculpting of phrases couldn’t be subtler, while the range of colours is vast, variously boosted by piquant accompanim­ents featuring piano, violin, plucked double bass and guitar, sometimes a string quartet. Only when Sidorova’s chord buttons are speedily alternated do we ever catch a whiff of heavy breathing and the village band ‘squeezebox’.

Piazzolla’s Aconcagua Concerto, taken from spirited concert performanc­es in Hamburg, might be the biggest exhibit, but there’s greater power in the brooding melody of Soledad, the fleet-footed

Yo soy Maria, or the punchy and raunchy Chau Paris.

Among the moderns, two Russians lead the pack with Sergey Voitenko’s subtle and soulful Revelation and the gradually untangled complexiti­es of Sergey Akhunov’s Two Keys to One Poem by J Brodsky. But for Sidorova’s artistry at its most delicate and liquid we have to drop back three centuries, before the accordion’s invention, and revisit dear old Bach. Geoff Brown



Romantic Violin Sonatas

Schubert: Grand Duo for Violin and Piano in A, D574; R Schumann: Violin Sonata No. 2; Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45 Carlock-combet Duo

SOMM Recordings SOMMCD 0628 79:40 mins

From the outset, listeners will enjoy violinist Guillaume Combet’s luxurious, old-fashioned sound and the rich acoustic. In comparison, Sandra Carlock’s piano is a little subdued (another slightly oldfashion­ed decision).

The recital recorded by the Philadelph­ia-based Carlockcom­bet Duo presents three different challenges. Robert Schumann’s compositio­ns from the 1850s tend to expansiven­ess and harmonic drift unless performers make clear, large-scale decisions about structure and contrast. The duo could also explore extremes – more inwardness as well as greater exuberance and unpredicta­bility in this late Sonata Op. 121. They lack nothing in tenderness and beauty, but late Schumann’s sheer weirdness needs less good behaviour.

But the closing movement,

‘Bewegt’, maintains energy and momentum throughout.

In Schubert’s cheerful Sonata in A major – which appeared posthumous­ly in the same year as the Schumann sonata – the duo seems more at ease, more playful, from the rustic, beguiling opening bars onwards. Phrases are more generously spaced and the music sparkles. The Scherzo is a teasing, elusive delight, its sensual Trio a lovely contrast. This is Schubert played most charmingly.

The recital closes with Grieg’s Third Violin Sonata, his last completed chamber work from 1887. This feisty, passionate Romantic work responds to elasticity, spaciousne­ss and grandeur, which can compensate for some weaknesses in the piece, such as the slightly uninspired main theme of the first movement. This performanc­e is a touch unyielding. But again, it is the fascinatin­g final movement which is most enjoyable; a magical, turbulent, folk-inspired journey which the duo tackles with passion and energy. Natasha Loges PERFORMANC­E ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★

Virtuoso Dances

Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances; Brahms: Hungarian Dances; Stravinsky: Divertimen­to; Szymanowsk­i: Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 28; plus works by Bazzini, Piazzolla & Wieniawski Linus Roth (violin),

José Gallardo (piano)

Evil Penguin EPRC0037 74:46 mins Linus Roth tells us this concatenat­ion of virtuoso violin and piano fireworks was recorded last July as a counterbla­st to the cancellati­ons of lockdown. Two of the items are actually quite substantia­l. Stravinsky’s six-movement Divertimen­to is an arrangemen­t by himself and the violinist

Samuel Dushkin of the orchestral Divertimen­to drawn, in turn, from his ballet The Fairy’s Kiss – that unique fusion of the styles of Stravinsky and Tchaikovsk­y. Szymanowsk­i’s Notturno et Tarantella, Op. 28, by contrast, comprises 12 minutes of sultry impression­ism shot through with sparks of Spanishry.

Then there are two bucolic romps comprising Bartók’s familiar six Romanian Folk Dances, and four of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances in arrangemen­ts by Kreisler and Joachim, plus two pyrotechni­c salon pieces: Wieniawski’s prancing Polonaise de Concert Op.25, and

La Ronde de Lutins by Puccini’s compositio­n teacher, Antonio Bazzini. In the middle of it all, like a bitterswee­t sorbet, comes Le Grand Tango by Astor Piazzolla, originally written for Rostropovi­ch, no less, and arranged by Sofia Gubaidulin­a.

Though one might occasional­ly wish for a slightly crisper Stravinski­an attack in moments of the Divertimen­to, the playing in general is a tonic indeed. Roth finds a silvery sweetness for the more lyrical sections of the Stravinsky, an earthy fullness for the Brahms and skitters through the harmonics and left-hand pizzicato passages of the Wieniawski and Bazzini with dazzling accuracy and speed. Gallardo impressive­ly controls the turbid textures of the Szymanowsk­i and, as a fellow Argentinia­n, brings an authentic lilt to the Piazzolla – enough to charm the legs off an Evil Penguin. Bayan Northcott. PERFORMANC­E


 ??  ?? Youthful abandon: Johan Dalene’s career has started with a bang
Youthful abandon: Johan Dalene’s career has started with a bang
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Cannone fire: Francesca Dego plays Paganini’s violin
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Fluent French: Natacha Kudritskay­a and Daniel Rowland
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