Klami & Englund – Violin Concertos – Benjamin Schmid, Oulu Symphony, Johannes Gustavsson (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 56:49 minutes | 962 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: ProStudioMasters | Booklet, Front Cover | © Ondine Oy, Helsinki
The Violin Concertos by Uuno Klami (1900-1961) and Einar Englund (1916-1999) are 20th century masterpieces of the violin concerto genre both overshadowed until now by their compatriot Jean Sibelius’ hugely popular Violin Concerto. In this recording award-winning violinist Benjamin Schmid gives impressive performances of the two works together with Oulu Symphony Orchestra and their chief conductor Johannes Gustavsson.
Uuno Klami wrote his Violin Concerto during the World War II and it was premiered in Stockholm in 1944 by Anja Ignatius, internationally the most celebrated Finnish violinist of the time. The Concerto was lost during the war and the composer completed a new version of the work in 1954. Uuno Klami is known for the strong influences that he took from French music and from the music of Stravinsky, much evident in the works that he wrote during the 1920s, but the violin concerto, however, belongs stylistically into Klami’s later period when the composer became more interested in symphonic textures. Indeed, the critic Erik Tawaststjerna considered the work to be “more symphonice than his symphonies”.
Year 2016 marks the centenary of the birth of Einar Englund, one of the most influental voices in Finnish contemporary music during the decades after World War II. Englund was interested in large-scale forms writing 7 Symphonies and numerous concertos. Englund’s post-war works show a mental similarity to the works of Bartók, Shostakovich and Prokofiev. However, during the decades Englund’s style gradually changed towards a more lyrical idiom, well manifested in his Violin Concerto from 1981, one of his most lyrical works. The premiere of the work in Finland was a success but for reasons unknown the work is performed rarely.
Known for his exceptionally wide repertoire and a great sense of musicality Benjamin Schmid is one of the most versatile violinists of today. Described as “one of the most valuable of today’s golden-age-violinists” (The New York Sun), Schmid has performed with orchestras such as Wiener Philharmoniker, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Gulbenkian Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He is also a sought-after jazz violinist. In 2006 the Strad Magazine wrote: “Schmid mesmerises from his very first entry, shaping phrases with a skin-rippling sensitivity to send the spirits soaring. His golden tone, immaculate intonation, faultless technique and total identification with this magical score are truly things of wonder.” Benjamin Schmid is accompanied by the Oulu Symphony Orchestra and conductor Johannes Gustavsson whose debut recording on Ondine released in 2016 includes works by Icelandic composer Jón Nordal (ODE 1282-2).
Two Finnish composers working in the post-Sibelius years and seeking to create a modern style of writing that would not fall within the shadow of their predecessor. That task was partially placed on the shoulders of Einar Englund, born at a time when the creative life of Sibelius was almost spent, the vacuum that followed being partially filled by the appearance of Englund’s First Symphony in 1947. It was a short lived period, others moving towards a radical modernism to which he could not subscribe, and he withdrew from writing for more than a decade. When audiences found these new ideas had taken them down a cul-de-sac, Englund returned, and among the compositions in his world was the 1981 Violin Concerto, a score in three movements that links with the influences of Prokofiev and Shostakovich in a language of tonality. Though making technical demands on both the soloist and the orchestra, it does not offer a vehicle for outgoing showmanship until we reach a vivacious finale. Uuno Klami had been born sixteen years before Englund, and was already established by the early 1920’s with listener-friendly symphonic scores. His Violin Concerto came into the world in 1943, but the parts disappeared, and it was left to Klami to re-write a new score that was premiered eleven years later. Here we have a ‘big’ concerto that follows in the path of the late-Romantics just as if the Second Viennese School had never been born. Often craggy and offering flights of fantasy for the soloist in the opening movement, the central Adagio brings a peaceful retreat before a proactive finale. Benjamin Schmid is the outstanding soloist playing a gorgeous Stradivari of 1705, while the Oulu Symphony Orchestra from Northern Finland is a beautifully transparent ensemble. Superb sound quality. © 2016 David’s Review Corner
Einar Englund (1916-1999)
1 I Allegro moderato 13:51
2 II Moderato 7:51
3 III Finale (Allegro molto) 6:57
Uuno Klami (1900-1961)
4 I Allegro molto moderato 11:29
5 II Adagio ma non troppo 9:10
6 III Allegro giocoso 7:30
Benjamin Schmid, violin
Johannes Gustavsson, conductor
Oulu Symphony Orchestra