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Friday, November 9, 2018

Tor Aulin - Violin Concertos (Ulf Wallin)


Composer: Tor Aulin
  • (01) Concert Piece in G minor, Op. 7 (Violin Concerto No. 1) 
  • (02) Violin Concerto No. 2 in A minor, Op. 11
  • (05) Violin Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 14

Ulf Wallin, violin
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra
Andrew Manze, conductor

Date: 2018
Label: cpo



Tor Aulin (1866-1914) had a tough life. He was three when his father died, his mother was heartlessly strict, and by the age of 14 Aulin was required to make his own living. He played the violin in theatre orchestras at first; then, after studies with Emile Sauret, he went on to become Sweden’s pre eminent violinist. He was influential as a chamber musician and conductor, too, founding a string quartet and various orchestral societies. Sadly, as he entered his forties, health problems made both playing and conducting excruciatingly painful and, ultimately, impossible. At 47, he was dead.

Aulin didn’t think much of himself as a composer, and his output is small, but the violin concertos are well worth getting to know. Sweetly tuneful and finely wrought, they’re all stained with a delicate yet touching strain of melancholy that seems to reflect what we known of Aulin’s personality. What’s most striking about them, perhaps, is their conspicuous lack of flamboyance. The solo parts are elaborate and demanding, yes, yet even the most intricate passages convey a sense of expressive, musical purpose.

The lyrical First Concerto (1889), written for Sauret and published under the title Concert Piece, is an extended single movement whose connected sections are all in slow and moderate tempos. The Second (1892) shows a richer use of orchestral colour and a wider range of emotional temperature. Aulin loves the play of major and minor, and his frequent shifting between these modes helps give his music its distinctive flavour. The Third Concerto (1896) is the real gem, however. Where some of the developmental working-out of ideas in the Second becomes repetitive, the Third is absorbing from start to finish. And with its subtly Nordic harmonic colouring, it’s easy to hear this concerto as a stepping stone between Bruch’s (an obvious influence) and Sibelius’s. The dancelike finale is a veritable parade of delightful tunes.

These works have all been recorded before but I believe this is the first time they’ve appeared together on a single disc. I retain a soft spot for Arve Tellefsen’s 1974 account of the Third with an incendiary Leif Segerstam (on a long-gone EMI LP), but Ulf Wallin is an equally effective advocate. He sneaks sinew into his silky tone where called for, and even finds moments of rapture in the music’s reflective lyricism – try the end of the Third’s slow movement, for example. Andrew Manze and the Helsingborg Symphony provide warm-hearted, characterful support and the recorded sound is excellent. Enthusiastically recommended.

-- Andrew Farach-Colton, Gramophone

More reviews:


Tor Aulin (10 September 1866 – 1 March 1914) was a Swedish violinist, conductor and composer. He studied music at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, then 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.


Ulf Wallin is a Swedish violinist who was born in Växjö and grew up in Linköping. He studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna. He has particular interest in contemporary music and close collaboration with composers such as Anders Eliasson, Alfred Schnittke and Rodion Shchedrin. Wallin has made numerous recordings for radio and television, and recorded over 40 CD recordings for labels BIS, cpo, EMI and BMG. He is professor of violin at the Hochschule für Musik "Hanns Eisler" Berlin since 1996, and a member of the Royal Music Academy since 2015.


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