Henning Kraggerud

Christian Sinding: Music for Violin and Piano, Vol. 1

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Norwegian composer Christian Sinding has suffered obscurity due to the fact that, at the age of 85 and a few weeks before his death, he joined Norway's Nazi party under circumstances far more questionable than those involving certain German musicians whose records were expunged. As the high opus numbers shown on this disc of violin-and-piano music reveal, he was very popular for a long time, in Norway and beyond, and he's certainly a good candidate for the kind of revival project in which the Naxos label has specialized. He was a staple of anthologies of classical music for home use, and the pieces on the program here give a good idea of why. Sinding was no Grieg, but he could spin a good melody in the small scale and draw a logical larger structure from modest material in a piece like the Cantus Doloris, Op. 78 (track 1). The other piece that definitively departs from the conventional is the Suite im alten Stil, Op. 10 (Suite in the Old Style), written in 1906 and a favorite of no less than Jascha Heifetz and Fritz Kreisler. Perhaps it even inspired the latter violinist, who went on to create a group of forgeries in a somewhat similar style (it's the opening Presto in Sinding's piece that gives an idea of how the early twentieth century imagined Baroque music) that he passed off as genuine Baroque works. The rest, made up of pieces in salon forms like the waltz Albumblatt, and most effectively the berceuse, is never less than pleasant in the able renditions by the young Norwegian musicians Henning Kraggerud (violin), playing a fine Guarneri instrument, and Christian Ihle Hadland (piano), although one wonders if the music will be enough to sustain the weight of a multi-disc series.

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