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ClassicsOnline Home » SINDING, C.: Violin and Piano Music, Vol. 1 (Kraggerud, Hadland)
Remembered today for his piano favourite The Rustle of Spring (Norwegian Classical Favourites
8.557017), Christian Sinding ranked second only to Grieg in his homeland and was honoured
abroad, composing a wealth of immediately appealing and well-crafted Romantic music
including the works for violin and piano on this disc. Playing a richly sonorous 1744 Guarneri
del Gesù, violinist Henning Kraggerud (whose recording of violin concertos by Sibelius and
Sinding on 8.557266 was acclaimed as “a masterly performance…warm and powerful, with a
confident, wide vibrato and immaculate intonation” by Gramophone) joins Christian Ihle
Hadland, one of Norway’s most exciting young piano talents.
By James Manheim
Christian Sinding (1856-1941)
Music for Violin and Piano • 1
One chilly, snowy, wet day in October in 2005, Henning
Kraggerud and I met in the sober setting of the National
Library at Solli Plass in Oslo. We were going treasure hunting,
bringing with us only a few hundred grams of
wood—actually a violin—Johan Svendsen’s old grand
piano, and a pile of notes, brought to us by chief
librarian Øyvind Norheim, who is always willing to
help. Together we had decided to dive deep into the
world of Christian Sinding. But first and foremost, some
facts about the subject of our search.
Christian Sinding was born on 11 August 1856 at
Kongsberg, the youngest of five children. Two years
later the family moved to Lillehammer, but after his father’s early death in 1860 his mother moved with her
children to Kristiania. Sinding started at Kristiania
Cathedral School in 1867, but neglected his studies and
at the age of sixteen found employment at the Hals
Brothers’ piano factory, where he worked for two years.
In 1874 he decided to move to Leipzig and the city’s
famous conservatory, founded by Felix Mendelssohn. At
this time Leipzig was a Mecca for Norwegian
composers, among whom Halfdan Kjerulf, Edvard Grieg
and Johan Svendsen were some of the most significant.
In 1882 Sinding returned to Munich for further
studies. He made his way back to Leipzig in 1886, and
at the end of this period made his first break-through,
when his Piano Quintet, Op. 5, was played by the
legendary violinist Adolf Brodsky’s quartet, with
Ferruccio Busoni as the pianist. The critics were
extremely divided, some declaring Sinding a genius,
others totally condemning the work. Even bad publicity,
as today, is better than none, and the quintet was
regularly played, the start of Sinding’s career.
Our investigations gained pace after playing
through Cantus doloris, Op. 78. This was one of the first
pieces we looked into at the National Library, and also
one of the first we knew had to be on this recording. The
piece was published in 1906, the year after the death of
Sinding’s adopted son, his wife Augusta’s son Morten,
born during her first marriage. The title means
“mourning song”, and is written in a passacaglia form,
followed by a string of variations. This piece differs
from the usually vivacious production of Sinding, and is
very touching and mournful.
In his next compositions Sinding uses smaller
forms. The delightful Elegie, Op. 106, No. 1, shows his
ability in bringing together a continuing melody line for
the violin, accompanied by a moving and restrained
piano part. The same pattern is used in Andante
religioso, Op. 106, No. 3, and Air, Op. 81, No. 1, while
the Romance, Op. 79, No. 2, offers a more robust and
independent piano voice.
Though it might be hard to believe, Sinding was an
important figure in his time. The main testimony to this
is that he was appointed an honorary member of the
Königliche Akademie der Kunste in Berlin in 1909. Ten
foreign composers were considered for this, and only
two of them accepted—Sinding and Puccini. His most
famous composition Frühlingsrauschen (The Rustle of
Sprin) won unrivalled fame.
Albumblatt, Op. 81, No. 2 illustrates Sinding’s style,
the freshness and delight of his melodic writing
enhanced by a characteristic accompaniment, an
example of Sinding at his best.
The charming Ständchen, Op. 89, No. 1, might
suggest a composer such as Franz Schubert, while the
lovely Alte Weise, Op. 89, No. 2, shows Sinding’s
ability to write a true folk-song, unlike Grieg, avoiding
the purely folkloristic. Together with Cantus doloris,
this piece reveals a more introverted and vulnerable
Sinding. The piece was played at the funeral of his wife
Augusta in 1936.
The Suite in A minor, Op. 10, was originally set for
piano and violin, and in the early twentieth century, it
was constantly performed by all the great violinists of
the time, including the likes of Jascha Heifetz and Fritz
Kreisler. Sinding made his own arrangement for violin
and orchestra. The suite was composed during his last
period in Leipzig. The violin reveals a whirling,
virtuoso first movement, followed by a subtle, slow,
unutterably beautiful slow movement, while the finale reveals extremes of energy and virtuosity. Despite the
wide range of chamber music by Sinding, this is the
only piece still in regular print.
The Waltzes, Op. 59, are taken from a collection of
six waltzes for four-hand piano. Typical of the time,
popular pieces were published in numerous versions,
and the Norwegian composer Eivind Alnæs arranged
them for solo piano, while the German violinist Willy
Burmester made his own arrangement of Waltz No. 3 in
G major. Our recording features elements of all three
versions, combined with our own ideas. The fourth
waltz reveals a burlesque element in Sinding, while the
middle part imparts an expression of Viennese delight.
And finally—the lovely Berceuse, Op. 106, No. 2.
Maybe it is a lullaby for Sinding’s deceased adopted
son, or perhaps it reveals the sensitivity and melancholy
of a man, usually so ebullient in character.
Undoubtedly Sinding’s national reputation in
Norway suffered through his supposed collaboration
with the Nazis and the German occupation. A recent
biography has done much to restore his position as one
of the leading figures in Norwegian music and in the
society of his time, fame to which it may be hoped the
present recording may make its due contribution.
Christian Ihle Hadland
English translation: Christine Ihle
Thanks to Øyvind Norheim, The Norwegian Music Collection, The National Library of Norway, to Ole Martin Hadland for having recovered the Waltzes Op. 59 at a jumble sale, and to artist manager Laila Nordø for coordinating the recording.
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