One of the most grown-up review sites around

Apollo's Fire

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Brahms Symphony 4 Dvorak Symphony 9
Peter Aronsky (piano) Les Délices du Piano"
IL Carnevale di Venezia Clarinet with orchestra

Sinfonie Concertanti for two flutes and orchestra

TUDOR RECORDS

TROUBADISC

A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin

NORTHERN FLOWERS

World Premiere
Weinberg’s Concertino (cello)!

AVIE

Irish-Appalachian Celebration

REFERENCE RECORDINGS

Nick Barnard review
Michael Cookson review



an inspirational performance


An indispensable acquisition


The finest we have had in years


bewitching sound


Simply amazing


A splendid addition


One of the most enjoyable


quite superb!


utterly essential


A wonderful introduction


An outstanding CD


cheer-raising


One of the finest versions

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

The Great Violins
Volume 2: ‘Niccolò Amati’ 1647

Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin)
Roderick Chadwick (piano)
rec. 11 May 2015 Church of St John the Baptist, Aldbury, England and St Michaels, Highgate, London, 11 July 2015
ATHENE ATH23205 [63:16]

Three things make this new CD both fascinating and absorbing. Firstly, the violin played by Peter Sheppard Skærved is the ‘prized’ Niccolò Amati (1596-1684) instrument once owned by Norwegian composer and violinist, Ole Bull. Secondly, Skærved has recreated one of Bull’s historical recitals and presented it ‘as it would have been.’ And finally there is the music itself: mainly works that would not be found in many concert programmes today, but back in the mid-1800s it would have been an amazingly popular and innovative choice.

Ole Bull’s beloved violin was made by Niccolò Amati: he was the teacher of the great Antonio Stradivari. After the composer’s death it passed into the hands of his wife Sarah Bull (1830-1910). Following her passing, the instrument was stored in a bank vault in Boston, Massachusetts, before being purchased by a private collector. It was this latter person who offered Skærved the opportunity to borrow and play the instrument and to ultimately make this recording. The violin was temporarily taken back to Bull’s music room at the ‘Alhambra’ on the Norwegian island of Lysøen, near Bergen.

Peter Sheppard Skærved has spent much time researching Bull’s life, music and performances. Bull travelled extensively in Europe and in the United States. The present recital is based on his understanding on the great virtuosi’s playing in places as diverse as Henry Longfellow’s ‘Wayside Inn’, Sudbury, Massachusetts (famous for that author’s collection, Tales of a Wayside Inn) the composer’s own music room at his Villa on the island of Lysøen, the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and at the a newly-built dry-store in Minneapolis. The liner notes explain that Bull was never happier than when he was playing at ‘intimate musical evenings’ and exploring virtuoso works, violin miniatures, vocal music and traditional Norwegian folk music. All these kinds of works are featured in this programme (with the exception of vocal music).

It is not necessary to examine the programme in detail, save to point out that there is a preponderance of ‘miniatures’ by Bull himself. The major work is Mozart’s beautiful Violin Sonata in G major, K. 301 dating from 1778. Other composers include Gounod with the ever and over popular Meditation sur le premiere prélude’ of Bach’s 48 and incorporating the Ave Maria. ‘Crowd Pleasers’ or pot-boilers include the ‘American Fantasy’ which is a ‘lost work’ recreated by Skærved from details presented on a contemporary recital handbill and based on an deep understanding of Bull’s composition and playing styles. The Fantasy features ‘Pop goes the Weasel’, ‘Home Sweet Home’ and naturally ‘Yankee Doodle.’ Other works in the historical recital include folk-tunes collected by Bull and Edvard Grieg.

Peter Sheppard Skærved has produced highly readable liner notes, expanding considerably on my ‘three points’ noted above. The usual biographies of the soloists include a number of photographs both contemporary and historical including a detail of the violin maker’s label. Slightly larger and better defined font would have been helpful, as well as dates for all the pieces performed. I could not find any mention of Bull’s ‘Et Sæterbesøg’ in the programme notes.

I was impressed by the sound quality of this CD. Every note was clear: the tone of this historical violin is displayed and played to perfection and the piano (where used) is in ideal balance.

‘Volume 1’ of this series was issued in 2015 and featured an instrument made by Andrea Amati in 1570: Skærved played the 24 Fantasies by Telemann. Enthusiasts of historical violins will be eagerly awaiting succeeding volumes of this most worthy and enjoyable project.

John France

Track listing
Ole BULL (1810-1880)
Siciliana (for Mikhail Glinka) (1847?) [2:24]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Sonata in G major, K. 301 (1778) [16:28]
Torgeir AUGUNDSSON (1799?-1872)
Bruremarsj (c.1829, transcr. Johann Halvorsen) [2:34]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Méditation sur le Premier Prélude by Bach (and the tune of 'Ave Maria') (1853) [4:19]
Ole BULL
Quartetto per un violino solo (1837) [0:48]
Guitar-Serenade (1856-61) [1:25]
Aurora (1841) [3:12]
2 Springdandser (c.1848) [1:46]
Hallinger No. 2 (c.1848) [2:12]
Fanitullen (1849) [1:50]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Digterens Hjerte (transcr. Emile Sauret) [1:22]
Ole BULL
American Fantasy (1856, transcr. Peter Sheppard Skærved, 2014) [11:02]
Gaetano BRAGA (1829-1907)
La Serenata ('Angel Serenade') (transcr. Adolphe Pollitzer) [2:52]
Anders HEYERDAHL (1832-1918)
Nissespel, Op. 11 [3:08]
Ole BULL
Et Sæterbesøg  [7:51]

 

 




Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger