Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tobias Ringborg - Swedish Romantic Violin Concertos


Composer: Franz Berwald; Wilhelm Stenhammar; Tor Aulin
  1. Berwald - Violin Concerto in C sharp minor, Op. 2: I. Allegro moderato
  2. Berwald - Violin Concerto in C sharp minor, Op. 2: II. Adagio
  3. Berwald - Violin Concerto in C sharp minor, Op. 2: III. Rondo. Allegretto
  4. Stenhammar - Two Sentimental Romances, Op. 28: I. Andantino in A
  5. Stenhammar - Two Sentimental Romances, Op. 28: II. Allegro patetico in F minor
  6. Aulin - Violin Concerto No. 3 in C minor Op. 14: I. Molto moderato
  7. Aulin - Violin Concerto No. 3 in C minor Op. 14: II. Andante con moto
  8. Aulin - Violin Concerto No. 3 in C minor Op. 14: III. Allegro molto

Tobias Ringborg, violin
Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Niklas Willén, conductor

Date: 1999
Label: Naxos




Franz Berwald’s Violin Concerto begins with a very Schubertian andante, literally at a walking pace, with that master’s characteristic melodic turns in the second theme. Not only do the Schubert references end there, however, even for Berwald the writing sounds surprisingly conservative in comparison to his original and progressive symphonies. Those pieces, however, were composed more than 20 years after this concerto–a product of 1820 that features little of the syncopated rhythms, fresh melodies, and novel orchestration of the later works. Berwald seems to be aiming for a concerto modelled on the high ideals of Beethoven, and while it is very tuneful and pleasant sounding, it is held down from true greatness by violin writing that’s more than a bit prosaic.

Wilhelm Stenhammar’s two Romances are lush, serene, and melodic, but, as with Berwald, they give no hint of the style of his more famous and characteristic works. Tor Aulin’s Violin Concerto No. 3 is the real draw of this disc. This captivating work deserves a place in the standard violin concerto repertoire. The solo writing is brilliantly virtuosic, giving Tobias Ringborg the opportunity to really show off his technique. The molto moderato first movement is similar in style and melodic contour to Saint-Saëns’ Third violin concerto. The slow movement is a beautiful romance, while the finale (whose main theme is in the same rhythm that Dvorák used in his own concerto) is chock full of the obligatory fireworks that could probably do with more sharply accented playing than Niklas Willén and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra provide (though this impression may be caused by the somewhat opaque recording). A varied compilation, with much appeal for violin fanciers. [8/12/2000]

-- Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: ****


Franz Berwald (23 July 1796 – 3 April 1868) was a Swedish Romantic composer. Berwald's music was not recognised favourably in Sweden during his lifetime, even drawing hostile newspaper reviews, but fared a little better in Germany and Austria. He made his living as an orthopedic surgeon and later as the manager of a saw mill and glass factory. Among four symphonies, his best known works, the first was the only one that was performed in his lifetime. His Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major, "Naïve", was premiered in 1878, ten years after Berwald's death.


Wilhelm Stenhammar (February 7, 1871 – November 20, 1927) was a Swedish composer, conductor and pianist. An admirer of German music, particularly that of Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner, he subsequently sought to emancipate himself and write in a more "Nordic" style, looking to Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius for guidance. His works were quite varied and among them included two completed symphonies, a substantial Serenade for Orchestra and two piano concertos. Stenhammar was also considered the finest Swedish pianist of his time.


Tor Aulin (10 September 1866, Stockholm – 1 March 1914, Saltsjöbaden) was a Swedish violinist, conductor and composer. He studied music at the Conservatory of Berlin with Émile Sauret and Philipp Scharwenka. Along with Wilhelm Stenhammar, Aulin spearheaded a revival in interest in the work of Franz Berwald, and as soloist he premiered some of Stenhammar's works for violin and orchestra. Aulin composed a number of orchestral and chamber music works, including a violin sonata, three violin concertos, an orchestral suite, and many small pieces for the violin.


Tobias Ringborg (born 2 November 1973 in Stockholm) is a Swedish violinist and conductor. He is one of the most prolific musical talents to emerge from Sweden in recent years. His career started in 1994 when he, as a violinist, won the prestigious Swedish Soloist Prize. As a violinist, Ringborg is an active champion of Swedish music, and his discography includes about twenty CDs with chamber music and violin concertos, mostly by Swedish composers. He plays a Gagliano violin, on loan from the Järnåker foundation of the Royal Academy of Music.


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