Christina Åstrand

Romantic Violin Concertos

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There is, of course, no shortage of Romantic-era violin concertos in the instrument's standard repertoire. None of them found with any regularity on the concert stage, however, hail from Denmark. This DaCapo album demonstrates that there are indeed examples that come to us from the Scandinavian country, and even that some of them are inexplicably excluded from the modern canon. Violinist Christina Åstrand and the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra begin the program with the strongest of the three: the Violin Concerto in D minor by Niels Gade. Premiered by none other than Joseph Joachim, the preeminent violinist of the time and close associate of Brahms, the concerto is filled with beautiful, sweeping melodies and Gade's trademark precision in orchestration and an idiomatic but not ostentatious treatment of the solo violin part throughout. Despite its key, the concerto is largely upbeat and optimistic. Though not quite on the level of concertos by some of his contemporaries, Gade's contribution is nevertheless an enjoyable composition that is certainly worthy of more widespread performance. The subsequent concertos by Peter Lange-Müller and Rued Langgaard do not make the same impact; melodies here are less memorable, and the interaction between soloist and orchestra is not as intricate. Langgaard's Concerto is a concerto in title only, with only one movement lasting less than 10 minutes and a minimally important solo part. Still, enthusiasts for uncommon literature are likely to find redeeming qualities. Åstrand's performance of all three concertos is unimpeachable; she plays with great conviction and passion, impeccable technique, clean intonation, and a beautiful, soaring tone throughout. DaCapo's SACD sound is especially spacious and clear.

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