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Tor AULIN (1866-1914)
Concert Piece for Violin and Orchestra in G minor op. 7 (Violin Concerto No. 1) (1890) [19:46]
Violin Concerto No. 2 in A minor op. 11 (1892) [24:08]
Violin Concerto No. 3 in C minor op. 14 (1896) [32:24]
Ulf Wallin (violin)
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Manze
rec. Konserthuset Helsingborg, Sweden, 2012
CPO 777 826-2 [76:19]

If you felt like resisting you would have to struggle to deny Aulin's Bruch-like toothsome sweetness. Don't worry it's not overdone and won't cause the equivalent of dental caries to your musical sensibilities. In any event it's by no means the only thing that makes these three concertos worth remembering among the torrent of unfamiliar music being revived by the various labels.

His Concert Piece could easily operate as the equivalent of a tribute to Bruch's works for violin and orchestra. The Swede's gentle soul is engaged here even when the sparks fly. His ideas have staying power and the capacity to touch the hearts of today's listeners. It starts rather like the Glazunov concerto. The other two Aulin concertos are in three movements; the first is in one extended span. The Second instantly expresses and confirms Aulin's leaning towards seductive serenade rather than turbulent theatricalities. This does not dilute his ability to conquer with hoarse and rhythmically active writing as at the end of the first movement and throughout the darting finale. He matches this with a steadiness and a ready gift for touching nobility in the second movement.

The Third Concerto, which has more flashy passages than its predecessor is, we are assured, the more popular of the three. It has been recorded on Naxos by Tobias Ringborg whose Sterling disc holds his versions of the first two concertos, by Christian Bergqvist (Musica Sveciae) and Charles Barkel. It is the longest of the three. Its village dance-like rustic revelry in the finale spins along almost brusquely in the hands of Manze and Wallin. It pauses, as do the other two concertos, to attest to Aulin's gift for extremely effective and affecting poetic writing.

Wallin has a fruity yielding tone with a pleasingly strong core. This has won him many laurels in the concertos and Sonatas by Reger, Atterberg, Saint-SaŽns and Peterson-Berger. Aulin, was himself a violin virtuoso and struck friendships with Stenhammar and Henri Marteau. His concertos honour and continue the lyrical tradition of Mendelssohn, Bruch, DvořŠk, Saint-SaŽns, Arensky and Glazunov rather than the more craggy paths taken by Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius. They are not especially Scandinavian in feel; Leipzig and Paris are closer to his heart.

All credit to CPO, whose multitudinous production rate means that it has been getting on for six years since these recordings were made. The same company already have more Aulin in their stable in the shape of an orchestral collection. The present sensible and logical coupling makes a great deal of sense at both library and artistic levels.

There is not such a plethora of loveable music that we can afford to ignore this disc, especially when it is supported by good audio-technical presentation and Stig Jacobsson's aptly factual liner essay.

Rob Barnett

 




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