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Tor Aulin: Master Olof; Swedish Dances; Dances From Gotland

Aulin / Wdr Rundfunkorchester Koeln / Willen
Release Date: 03/26/2013 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777775   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Tor Aulin
Performer:  Tomoharu YoshidaJuraj Cizmarovic
Conductor:  Niklas Willén
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

AULIN Four Swedish Dances, Op. 32. Three Dances from Gotland , Op. 28. Master Olof , Op. 22 Niklas Willén, cond; WDR RSO Cologne CPO 777 775-2 (66:21)

Tor Aulin is known almost exclusively today for his Third Violin Concerto, a work of great lyrical beauty. But among plenty of chamber music that he wrote to promote his own performances as a Read more concertizing violinist, he turned from time to time to purely orchestral works. Some of these were original; others were deft arrangements of music for violin and piano. The three works on this album showcase his idiomatic but personalized use of orchestral color, and his ability to find interesting things to say at length.

The Four Swedish Dances were originally composed for violin and orchestra, then arranged for orchestra alone in 1912/3. They belong to the genre of actual folk tunes arranged into a sophisticated classical format; the central section of the second, with its pair of intricately worked themes overlaid for different winds, is typical. Its movement designation, Quasi minuetto , also hints at the nostalgia that some might find edges into preciosity. But it’s safe to say that if you enjoy Dvo?ák’s Slavonic Dances , you’ll take to these with equal pleasure.

The Three Dances from Gotland is another piece Aulin wrote for violin and piano. Initially in five movements, he orchestrated three. These were premiered in 1910. Aulin’s colorful arrangement and clever manipulation of contrapuntal textures again ensures interest. The dances are closer to their originals than in the Four Swedish Dances , and lack the distinctive profiles of the latter. Still, they are good pops fun.

Aulin was one of those lucky musicians who possessed great personal charm in addition to considerable musical ability. It eased his way into opportunities to perform, and secured the friendship of some of the most notoriously prickly musical personalities of his time. Wilhelm Stenhammar, feared critic, composer, and conductor, became a personal friend of Aulin, and appeared repeatedly with the violinist’s string quartet when a pianist was required. Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, another very powerful composer-critic who regularly lambasted Sibelius, Nielsen, and Stenhammar, wrote with approval of his music. But the most curious personal and artistic ties Aulin ever developed were with August Strindberg. For the radical, brooding, domineering playwright-poet, Aulin composed preludes to each of the five acts of Master Olof , as well as a melodrama in act III. From this, the composer extracted four of the preludes for his suite, reordering them, and composing a new fifth movement. Each was assigned a title: “The Reformer,” “His Wife and Child,” “In the Town Church,” “At his Mother’s Deathbed,” and “Party at Norreport.”

The music demonstrates Aulin’s usual talent for a good melody. Once again the orchestration is exceptional. Aulin demonstrates as well a gift for both setting and maintaining a mood in what amounts to a series of small tone poems. Only “In the Town Church” fails to satisfy, with its short motif that does little more than repeat in an effort to generate the storm of one of Olaus Petri’s typically fiery reformist sermons. By contrast, “Party of Norreport” is an especial charmer, a witty adaptation of a Swedish folk song. Master Olof has the kind of appeal that would make it a hit on a public radio station: light, expressively direct music of no little character and appeal.

Niklas Willén is as alive to the theatrical brilliance and charm of all this music as he was deaf to it in an album devoted to Nielsen (Naxos 8.557164). Phrasing is supple, and the soloists of the WDR RSO of Cologne offer far more character in this kind of music than I’m used to hearing from German orchestras—where classical music is almost invariably treated as a grim matter. I might wish on this set slightly faster tempos at times, but it’s clear Willén and his musicians get what this is all about. And unless they’re remarkable at simulation, they obviously enjoy it, too.

Recommended. Hopefully, CPO will consider issuing more Aulin in the future. But for now, there’s this.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

Svenska danser, for orchestra, Op. 32 by Tor Aulin
Performer:  Tomoharu Yoshida (Oboe), Juraj Cizmarovic (Violin)
Conductor:  Niklas Willén
Period: Modern 
Written: 1913 
Venue:  Köln, WDR, Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal 
Length: 21 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Gotländska danser, for orchestra, Op. 28 by Tor Aulin
Performer:  Juraj Cizmarovic (Violin), Tomoharu Yoshida (Oboe)
Conductor:  Niklas Willén
Period: Modern 
Written: 1910 
Venue:  Köln, WDR, Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal 
Length: 13 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Master Olof, suite for orchestra, Op 22 by Tor Aulin
Performer:  Tomoharu Yoshida (Oboe), Juraj Cizmarovic (Violin)
Conductor:  Niklas Willén
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Köln, WDR, Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal 
Length: 29 Minutes 46 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Gorgeous Recording November 1, 2014 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "By all means, you owe it to yourself to hear this vibrant, upbeat set of dances from Swedish composer Tor Aulin. Another gem in CPO's great inventory of works by little known composers, this recording has a lot going for it- great melodies, excellent playing by Cologne's WDR Radio Symphony Orchestra, crystal clear audio engineering. Clearly falling on the lighter side of Scandinavia's wonderful classical music traditions, Aulin emerges as a highly attractive composer, and these sets of dances, plus a suit from Aulin's music for a stage play 'Master Olof,' will immediately make a strong and positive impression. This is a disk you can repeatedly come back to for a refreshing change of place. Highly recommended." Report Abuse
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