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Wilhelm PETERSON-BERGER (1867-1942)
Violin Sonata in E minor, Op.1 (1887) [30:18]
Suite, Op.15 (1896) [16:11]
Canzone (1889) [2:36]
Visa I folkton (1882 arr. violin 1917) [2:53]
Ulf Wallin (violin)
Love Derwinger (piano)
rec. October 2001 and January 2002, Radiohuset, Swedish Radio, Stockholm
CPO 999 703-2 [52:05]

Wilhelm Peterson-Berger’s Violin Sonata in E minor bears his first opus number. Composed in 1887 it was finally published in 1900. He was a student when he wrote it, barely 20, and the hints of Grieg are pronounced. It opens with a slow introduction but soon things perk up and it’s here too that one encounters another influential figure on the composer, namely Emil Sjögren. There are, nevertheless elements of individuality in the melodic freshness - sideways glances at Tor Aulin, perhaps - and the rustic, folk-like drama of the piano writing. There’s a rather lovely sentimental lied as a slow movement, though he may have considered pruning its length. There’s a sort of troll dance as a scherzo though this is balanced by a more salon-inclining trio; both attractively presented. In the finale Peterson-Berger goes all out for the more popular folk idiom, but varies things so that the rhetoric slows musingly and to fine effect. Certainly this half-hour early sonata could have done with some editorial work, but it shows the composer in his full youthful confidence.
 
The 1896 Suite is redolent of Swedish folksong and here his gift for melody is reprised. A high point is the finale, the last movement of the four, a resinous Torch-dance with piano off-beats and vigorously bowed drama very much to the fore. The Canzone dates from 1889 and has had a chequered background: no one seems sure from where it derives. It was printed in 1952 as Melody in F major but only a remnant of the violin part has survived. That little which has is certainly a sweet melody. Finally to Visa i folkton, a folk-tune arranged by the composer from the third song in his collection called Four Swedish Folksongs. Composed in 1892 and printed in 1917 this arrangement ends the recital in a relaxed and undemanding fashion.
 
It’s clear from the foregoing that these are early, largely undemanding examples of Peterson-Berger’s art, well recorded over a decade ago, and I assume originally for radio broadcast. They’re uniformly attractive and to a large degree that is due to the elegant and stylistically apt playing of Ulf Wallin and Love Derwinger.
 
Jonathan Woolf

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