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NORTHERN TIMBRE :  Works for violin & piano – Edvard GRIEG : Sonata No. 3;  Jean SIBELIUS: Danses Champêtres;  Carl NIELSEN: Sonata No. 1 – Ragnhild Hemsing, violin / Tor Espen Aspaas, piano – Pure Audio Blu-ray/SACD

NORTHERN TIMBRE :  Works for violin & piano – Edvard GRIEG: Sonata No 3 in C-minor, Op.45;  Jean SIBELIUS : Danses Champêtres;  Carl NIELSEN : Sonata No 1 in A major, Op.9 – Ragnhild Hemsing, violin / Tor Espen Aspaas, piano – Pure Audio Blu-ray – 5.1 surround + stereo + mShuttle / 9.1 Auro-3D + 9.1 Dolby Atmos / SACD multichannel and stereo;  2L-138SABD –  TT: 58:44 ea. (2 discs) [Distr. by Naxos] *****:

Recorded at Sofienberg Church, Norway during May 2016, this new release from 2L showcases Scandinavian music for violin and piano.

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) wrote three violin sonatas, the last of which was completed at Troldhaugen in 1887. It got its first performance in Leipzig, played by the violinist Adolph Brodsky with the composer at the piano.  The work builds, as does so much of Grieg’s writing, on Norwegian dance rhythms and folk tunes, all brought out with natural grace and exciting drama by Ragnhild Hemsing and Tor Espen Aspaas.  The contrasts in moods of the three movements, and within those movements, are presented with subtlety, the overall architecture of the whole work always in the musicians’ sights.

Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) completed the five Danses Champêtres, op.106 in 1924, round about the same time as he was finishing his last symphony.  This charming collection of bucolic miniatures also uses folk influences and Hemsing and Aspaas present these with obvious affection.

Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) wrote two sonatas for violin and piano, the first appearing a couple of years after the first symphony.  Hemsing and Aspaas bring out the energy and humour, occasionally acerbic at that, so clear in the very DNA of Nielsen’s writing.  Ragnhild Hemsing has exquisite clarity in her playing which brings out so successfully the crystal-clear focus of Nielsen’s writing. That Hemsing and Aspaas are a very well-established duo is apparent from the complementary fluency of their enormously impressive playing.

The quality of sound that Morten Lindberg and his team have captured with such transparent naturalness is astonishingly excellent, whether auditioned via the Blu-ray Audio or SACD discs, both supplied with this release. State-of-the-art, indeed!

—Peter Joelson

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