Country : Norway Label : Berlin Classics Genres and styles : Classical / Romantic Year : 2023

Ragnhild Hemsing – Bruch : Violin Concerto no 1 ; Tveitt : Hardanger Fiddle Concerto no 2

· by Frédéric Cardin

I recently told you about Norwegian violinist Ragnhild Hemsing, who came to Montreal to give a concert on 16 June as part of the Montreal Baroque Festival. She is, in all likelihood, the only artist today who can play both the classical violin and the Hardanger, a traditional Norwegian 9-string violin. If you had the slightest doubt about her ability to master both instruments, this album released a few weeks ago will certainly convince you: on the programme, Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26, a canon of the repertoire, and, accompanying it, the Concerto for Hardanger Fiddle and Orchestra No. 2, ”3 Fjords”, Op. 252 by Geirr Tveitt (1908-1981), a 20th-century Norwegian composer.

Read the interview with Ragnhild Hemsing on the occasion of her visit to Montreal: 

RAGNHILD HEMSING: THE FOUR SEASONS OF THE HARDANGER VIOLIN

Bruch is carried away by the soloist’s naturalistic, almost pastoral and traditional vision, particularly in the first two movements. The third movement, meanwhile, takes on a rustic character thanks to a sometimes raspy bow. Although Bruch was German, hints of Norwegian fir emanate from this most idiomatic of readings. The pairing with Geirr Tveitt’s Hardanger Fiddle Concerto No. 2 is perfect. If the folk attitude expressed in the Bruch is a matter of original interpretation, it is quite the opposite in the Tveitt, where the very essence of the work rests on its assumed links with popular tradition. Rarely performed, the concerto unfolds conventionally in three movements. It has a romantic harmonic atmosphere with a few modern touches used effectively for dramatic effect. Tveitt’s sound world has something of the ‘Once upon a time‘ manner that we love so much about this kind of music. A wonderful discovery!

The programme is completed by two romances for violin and orchestra, one by Svendsen, of pure Romantic style, and the other by another Norwegian, Sigurd Lie (1871-1904), based, like the Tveitt concerto, on Norwegian folklore.

Hemsing is technically brilliant and discursively eloquent. This artist brings something refreshing to the world of classical music, and I hope we’ll be hearing a lot more of her.

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