Christina Åstrand, Violin

Month

Biography

Born 1969 in Århus, Denmark.

Started playing violin at the age of 4. Began her studies with professor Tutter Givskov at the Royal Jutland Conservatory of Music in 1983 – as one of the youngest students ever. Further studies in Paris with Professor Gerard Poulet.

Christina Åstrand is one of the most remarkable violinists in Scandinavia. Since her soloist debut in 1990 things have moved rapidly for her and she is a frequent soloist with the leading Scandinavian orchestras – always providing a personal interpretation of the music.

Several Danish composers have composed and dedicated works to her. She is one of the few violinists in the world who also plays György Ligeti ́s violin concerto. Her recording of Ligeti’s and Per Nørgård ́s violin concertos with the DR Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard won the distinguished prize Diapason D ́or. Danish music is a big part of Christina Åstrand ́s repertoire. Her aim is to further the knowledge of Danish music outside Danish borders and is doing so in her choice of repertoire and with her many CD recordings.

In 2014 Christina Åstrand had her American debut playing N. W. Gade ́s violin concerto with Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. And as 2017 is the 200 years celebration of N.W.Gade´s birthday, she will perform it several times in Scandinavia.

Christina Åstrand have recorded several Danish violin concertos; in 2009 she released a CD containing violin concertos by the Danish composers N.W. Gade, Lange-Müller and Rued Langgaard. She plays together with Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and the conductor John Storgårds.

Chamber music has a big part of Christina Åstrands repertoire. Since 1995 she is concentrating her chamber music work in Duo Åstrand/Salo with the pianist Per Salo. In 2007 the duo released a CD with the violin music of Carl Nielsen. The CD won two prizes at Danish Music Awards same year: Chamber Music Release of the Year and P2 Prize - the special prize of the Danish listeners. In 2009 a CD was released containing the three violin sonatas of the Danish romantic composer N.W. Gade. In 2012 the duo released a CD/DVD with the violin sonatas of Ravel, Ernest Bloch and Janacek. The duo have recorded the music on a CD and in collaboration with DR made a video for each of the sonatas in the beautiful Concert Hall of DR, Copenhagen. The CD was released in June 2012 on the international label Orchid Classics.

Duo Åstrand/Salo released their latest CD in June 2014 with the violin music of Friedrich Kuhlau. This project will be followed by vol 2 in late 2017.

The duo has commissioned a double concerto for violin and piano by the Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen which will premiere and be recorded with Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.

In 1993 Christina Åstrand was appointed Principal Concert Master with DR Symphony Orchestra in Copenhagen. This is the position she still holds.

In Denmark Christina Åstrand has received numerous awards and prizes – a.o. The Artist Prize of the Danish Music Critics.

Dansk biografi:

Født 1969 i Århus, Danmark.

Startede med at spille violin som 4-årig efter Suzuki-metoden. Begyndte 1983 på Det jyske Musikkonservatorium hos professor Tutter Givskov og var med sine 13 år én af de yngste studerende nogensinde på Musikkonservatoriet. Yderligere studier hos professor ved Pariserkonservatoriet, Gerard Poulet.

Christina Åstrand er en af de mest bemærkelsesværdige violinister i Skandinavien i dag. Siden sin debut i 1990 er det gået stærkt og hun gæster jævnligt de førende symfoniorkestre i Skandinavien som solist. Altid med en spændende og personlig fortolkning af musikken, uanset om det drejer sig om de klassiske violinkoncerter eller helt nutidig musik.

Mange danske komponister har skrevet og tilegnet hende værker. Derudover har hun György Ligetis violinkoncert på repertoiret som en ud af ganske få violinister i verden. Hendes cd-indspilning med Ligeti og Per Nørgårds violinkoncerter med DR Symfoniorkestret og Thomas Dausgaard har vundet den fornemme, franske pris Diapason D´or. Dansk musik fylder i det hele taget meget i repertoirelisten.

Christina Åstrand gør, både som solist og kammermusiker, en stor indsats for at udbrede kendskabet til dansk musik. Såvel i udlandet som herhjemme.

Christina Åstrand har indspillet adskillige violinkoncerter – senest udkom i 2009 en cd med tre danske violinkoncerter af N W Gade, Lange-Müller og Rued Langgaard. Hér spiller hun med Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra og dirigenten John Storgårds.

I 2015 fik Christina sin amerikanske debut, hvor hun spillede Gade´s smukke violinkoncert med Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra ved en stor dansk festival. I 2017 er hun med til at fejre netop N. W. Gade ved at spille både hans violinkoncert og hans kammermusik i både ind og udland.

Kammermusikken har også en stor plads i Christina Åstrands repertoire. Siden 1996 har hun spillet i duoen Åstrand/Salo med pianisten Per Salo. I 2007 udgav duoen en cd med Carl Nielsens violinsonater, som samme år fik to priser ved årets Danish Music Awards, nemlig ”Årets Kammermusikudgivelse” og P2-Prisen. 2009 udkom N W Gades tre violinsonater og 2012 udkom en cd med sonater af Ravel, Ernest Bloch og Janacek. Denne cd er udgivet sammen med en dvd hvor Åstrand og Salo i samarbejde med DR har indspillet de tre sonater i Koncerthusets smukke sal. Det er en unik produktion hvor lyd og billede går op i en højere enhed. CD´en er udgivet på det internationale pladeselskab Orchid Classics.

2014 udkom en ny spændende cd på Dacapo med helt ukendte violinsonater af Friedrich Kuhlau. I efteråret 2017 forventes resten af Kuhlaus violinværker at udkomme.

Duoen skal i samarbejde med DR Symfoniorkester desuden uropføre og indspille kommissionsværket koncert for violin, klaver og orkester af den danske komponist Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen.

Siden 1993 har Christina Åstrand haft stillingen som koncertmester for DR Symfoniorkestret.

Christina Åstrand har modtaget adskillige priser. Blandt dem Jakob Gade-prisen, Musikanmelderringens kunstnerpris og Tagea Brandts Rejselegat.

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Repertoire
Review
Gade Violin Concerto with Chicago Philharmonic
Chicago Tribune
Mon, 2014-09-22
Gade's Violin Concerto (1880) makes no secret of its musical debt to the composer's mentor and colleague, Felix Mendelssohn, although this melodic, well-made piece also breathes the robust romanticism of Max Bruch. The soloist plays virtually nonstop, and the gifted Danish violinist Christina Astrand addressed its lyrical bravura with full-blooded dedication and sensitivity. John von Rhein
A Winner
SA-CDnet
Thu, 2009-08-06
Even Danish music-lovers would be hard-put to name composers of Danish violin concertos other than Nielsen. DaCapo have mounted a resurrection exercise for three Romantic concertos of this ilk which have slipped into oblivion. They found an ideal team to perform the resucitations, and the results truly confound the dismissive views of musical historians. Christina Åstrand is the remarkable soloist; she was appointed leader of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra at the age of 22, a position she has held for 13 years. She has clearly taken to these three works, applying her consummate musicianship and audible enthusiasm, aided and abetted by Finnish conductor John Storgårds (himself a virtuoso violinist) and his excellent Finnish Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, who are galvanised into playing their hearts out for the project. Niels W Gade (1817-1880) was one of Denmark's most influential Romantic composers. A virtuoso violinist himself, he had a spell in Leipzig as director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, where he conducted the first performance of Mendelssohn's First Violin Concerto in 1845. His own Violin Concerto in D minor Op. 56 was written in 1880, a grand, superbly orchestrated work in traditional 3 movement form with the soloist in the spotlight most of the time. Its ardent first movement launches urgently, with the soloist entering almost immediately with a long-breathed yearning melody of fine quality. This takes off into a soaring climax, heralding the warm and truly memorable nostalgic second subject. Åstrand fully has the measure of the movement's poetic lyricism and passionate climaxes, playing with pure, sweet tone and easy athleticism - but with steel where needed to ride the turbulent orchestral climaxes, which are expertly placed by Storgårds and his orchestra. The second movement 'Romanza' arrives with another lovely, gentle solo cantilena supported by lower strings. This develops into a rich, broad melodic tapestry before visiting a swaying dance against breathlessly shimmering violins. Åstrand is captivating in her subtle and eloquent playing of this attractive slow movement. Few violin concertos have finales which can challenge those of the great masters, but Gade provides one which coheres beautifully with what has gone before; his 'Rondo scherzando' is all about fun and brilliant display, with broad-brushes of strutting Danish folk dances in which the orchestra have vivid and unusual textures to support the soloist. It brings the work to a rousing conclusion. Damming critical reviews buried this concerto before it got its chance to take wing. It is a real discovery. On disc, with such a performance and recording, Gade's Violin Concerto should gain much popularity. Peter Erasmus Lange-Müller (1850-1926) is best known in Denmark for his vocal and stage works. He sought the advice of Axel Gade (violinist son of Niels) when composing his Violin Concerto in C, Op. 69 (1902). In the autograph of the score held in the Royal Danish Museum (available freely on the internet), it is evident that Lange-Müller ended the first movement without a cadenza, but he did write an alternative and more conventional ending with space for a cadenza. One was provided by Axel Gade (and another by the Swedish violinist Tor Aulin is also bound into the autograph). It appears that the early performances with these ungainly and musically superfluous cadenzas may have been a major cause of the concerto falling into oblivion. However, in these new sympathetic performances, the warmth and open-hearted lyricism of Lange-Müller's invention is immediately appealing. Another feature of the Autograph score is that Lange-Müller frequently adds an alternative ("ossia") solo violin line, which is technically more difficult. Christina Åstrand seems to consistently prefer the more elaborate and expressive version throughout the work. The concerto's wistful slow movement has unmistakable influences of Grieg, with a central playful interchange of woodwind and violin, and its joyful Finale launches a memorably fiery detached-note country dance which is evidently thoroughly relished by all the players. Lange-Müller's is a most interesting and fresh-sounding late development of the Violin Concerto, with undoubted attractiveness. The final Violin Concerto is by Rued Langaard (1943-1944), whose complete symphonies have recently been issued by DaCapo, and whose star seems at last to be rising internationally. Composed between 1943 and 1944, this short work (under 10 minutes) is characteristically personal, winsome and quirky, avoiding the classical concerto format and taking the spotlight off the violinist by adding a concertante part for piano. It too is a strongly lyrical and tuneful work, passing rapidly through a number of pastiche-like moods and tempos, navigated very smoothly by Åstrand and Storgårds, with admirable playing by pianist Ville Hautala. The presence of the piano and some "advanced" harmonies indicate the late date of Langaard's further exploration of the Romantic Concerto in this delectably lush but compact incarnation. Everything seems to come together on this disc. Fine musicianship from all performers melds with a sharply focussed, detailed recording of wide dynamic range, bathed in the Tampere Concert Hall's warm ambience. The soloist's sound is immaculately detailed yet ideally set back somewhat in the hall acoustic, which adds much allure to the violin tone. The 5.0 multichannel gives a realistic and immediate concert experience (although those having full-range speakers will note some deep bass podium rumbles from the conductor). Few musical resurrections are as successful and rewarding as these three Romantic violin concertos - this disc is simply a winner on all counts. Copyright © 2009 John Miller and SA-CD.net
Romantic Violin Concertos
Audaphile Audition
Wed, 2009-08-19
"...on its own terms it makes a rewarding half hour, especially when played with tone as beautiful as Christina Åstrand conjures from her instrument." All three concertos are beautifully executed by Christina Åstrand who shows off the upper register of her instrument with a lovely purity of both tone and intonation. She and the conductor John Storgårds convey the structure of these pieces with attention to long line, and the Tampere Philharmonic accompanies with sensitivity - essential if pieces of this calibre are to have chance of success. Peter Joelson
Outstanding
MusicWeb International
Tue, 2009-10-13
I’ve praised Christina Åstrand for her recent recording of all three Gade Violin Sonatas and I’m not going back on my word. She deals well and justly with its fluent romanticism, its Mendelssohnian lineage. The opening is hyper-romantic in that respect; she also takes the central movement slow, aerating its warmth with great textural facility. The finale is engaging, wholesome and freewheeling if just a bit faceless; the finale problem emerges here, though this is no fault of Åstrand and conductor John Storgärds. Lange-Muller’s Concerto however is a standout. You must hear it. It was first performed in 1904 by Axel Gade, son of Niels which makes a neat connecting point. As befits this most voice-rich of composers the themes are decidedly vocalised but there are also distinctive melodic and harmonic forces at work here that lift the work well beyond the ordinary plane. The orchestration is rich and attractive, and not overladen. Maybe Grieg drifts over the slow movement a little too insistently but that’s no bad thing in my book; Peer Gynt glimmers delightfully. Åstrand takes her time in the finale and enjoys its reflective passages over rich orchestral pizzicato. If my own preference is for a faster tempo here, there’s no doubting the instrumental strengths on offer nor the conviction with which she measures her argument. As I said try to hear this work - it’s a real delight. Finally we have a veritable pocket concerto along the lines of Valen’s similar work. This is the very different 1943 Concerto of Rued Langgaard. As usual with him there are exciting things abounding. There’s a piano in the texture which provides occasional interludes, cadential violin passages, and a typically quirky and individualist approach to chronology and to style. It’s a brilliant nine minutes’ worth of your time and money - and has substance. The SACD recording is first class with a fulsome acoustic in the Tampere Concert Hall. Long may Åstrand continue to retrieve such works and present them to us so richly. Jonathan Woolf
Romantic Violin Concertos
Fanfare Magazine
Fri, 2010-01-08
By 1969, historian Kai Aage Bruun would write the Niels Gade Concerto off as “pale,” an apparently favorite term of dismissal, since he applied the same term to Lange-Müller’s Concerto, as well. These first-rate performances by Christina Åstrand, leader of the Danish National Orchestra, could change some minds. It is hard to imagine anyone finding these works pale as presented here; a composer could hardly ask for better advocacy than hers. Conductor John Storgårds—he is a violinist, as well—and the fine Tampere Philharmonic are no less committed, especially notable for their heart-felt phrasing and sensitive support of the soloist. Her playing has an alluring sweetness, especially in the warm acoustic of Tampere Concert Hall, soaring strength in all registers, and is flawlessly accurate. Ronald E. Grames GADE Violin Concerto in d. LANGE-MÜLLER Violin Concerto in C. LANGGAARD Violin Concerto1 • Christina Åstrand (vn); John Storgårds, cond; Ville Hautala (pn);1 Tampere PO • dacapo 6.220562 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 61:27)
Ravel, Bloch & Janacek - Violin Sonatas
Musical Pointers
Mon, 2012-06-11
Ravel, Bloch & Janacek - Violin Sonatas Christina Åstrand (violin) Per Salo (piano) This is a remarkable - indeed, to my knowledge unique - recording project from the leader and pianist of the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Both are, unsurprisingly, superb musicians and chamber music partners. They give exemplary accounts of three important 20 C violin sonatas, two of them increasingly well known and admired, Bloch's less so. What is special is the visual treatment of the DVD, superbly filmed in Blu-ray quality definition, thought they are not Blu-ray filmings and will play on any DVD machines. The recordings were made separately, the CD in February 2011 at Studio 2, Danish Radio, Copenhagen; the DVD the following November at the Concert Hall there, to spectacular result. The sound for both is in the safe hands of Aksel Trige, the elaborate, innovative filming under a team headed by Arne J Rasmussen. What is new (to me) is that there is no conventional cutting for close ups etc; instead, the camera(s) move freely around, pointing the strikingly contrasting lighting of the hall and the different costumes chosen to perform each work (nothing to be frightened of there!). None of this comes over (to us) as gimmicky; the fluid movements of focus reflect the music in a way which gradually takes over - I was at first worried by the transient elongation of the Fazioli grand but quickly accepted it. The filming took place in the marvellous new Copenhagen concert hall and these musicians, who play there regularly, have deliberately given each work a separate visual imagery, which complement each other. I have concentrated on the presentation, but have no doubt - each performance is competitive and these modern digital accounts have nothing to fear from comparisons (Gramophone 1958 reviews early performances of the Bloch, including by Heifetz, and ASV has Friedman c. 1990). If the idea of the special visual treatment puts you off, there is always the CD sound-only performance of the programme to enjoy. Christina Åstrand & Per Salo leave me eager to hear their other recordings of Nielsen, Norgaard etc. Peter Grahame Woolf Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) : Violin Sonata in G major Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) : Violin Sonata No. 2, "Poeme Mystique" Leos Janacek (1854-1928) : Violin Sonata JW VII/7 Orchid Classics ORC100022 (DRSOs Concert Hall, May 2012, CD + DVD - price as one)
Sonatas by Bloch, Raval
www.classicalsource.com
Wed, 2012-06-27
This is a most distinguished package, featuring two of Denmarks leading musicians who make up a regular duo. Christina Åstrand studied with that wonderful lady Tutter Givskov, who long led the Copenhagen Quartet: I remember speaking with her about her teacher some years ago. Also a pupil of Gérard Poulet, she leads the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Per Salo has a busy solo career and plays the organ in addition to the piano. Together they have recorded the sonatas by Niels Gade and a Nielsen disc. Here they have chosen three sonatas which stand rather at an angle to the central repertoire. Ravel counted a splendid violinist, Hélène Jourdan-Morhange, among his friends and this Sonata (his second, in fact) was dedicated to her, although for health reasons she was unable to give the premiere and George Enescu partnered the composer instead. I have particularly enjoyed the performance by Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian and Emmanuel Strosser (Lontano). Let me say at once that this Scandinavian interpretation is in the same league. Per Salo opens the first movement with the utmost simplicity and Åstrand follows suit. You feel they have a definite point of view and they stick to it, with the violinist stressing purity of tone. The central Blues begins beautifully rhythmically and throughout the pianist shows a fine touch: in the louder parts both players keep a good control of their sound. Salo introduces the finale, Perpetuum mobile, very precisely and it spins along nicely. Ernest Bloch was an excellent violinist, a pupil of Ysaÿe among others, and wrote well for all the stringed instruments. His Second Sonata has never matched up to his First for popularity  only Rafael Druian and Jascha Heifetz recorded it in the good old days  and in general his music is not much played these days. We need a revival. This Sonata plays continuously, although it falls into a number of recognisable sections, too many for its own good: one fewer of both faster and slower sections, and an expansion of the beautiful slower section towards the end, would have made for a more cohesive and effective whole. Significantly, the artists use that lovely slow passage for the title music of their DVD, and Åstrand plays it gorgeously, with real Innigkeit. Although this is not one of Blochs avowedly Jewish works, one very intense section does call his Jewish mode to mind. Åstrand plays the opening of the Sonata, where the violin is on its own, with pure tone, laying out the main theme which is a sort of motto throughout the work. The challenging piano part is no problem for Salo and the artists work well together, right up to the intense fortissimo ending. It adds up to a superb performance, which anyone interested in Bloch should investigate. Janáeks Violin Sonata is particularly successful in the outer movements. The players make a heroic effort to capture the composers individual syntax, which comes naturally to Czech musicians. In the Ballada, it crossed my mind that Åstrand, in particular, was relating the music too much to the general run of Late-Romantic violin music  but if she finds that quality in the piece, why not? She plays beautifully, as does Salo, on whom a lot of the stylistic burden falls; and the little Allegretto before the finale is nicely turned. Like the performance by Repin and Lugansky, this one is so musical that I am won over, despite my allegiance to several Czech versions. The recordings on the CD are excellent. The DVD is very enjoyable. For each work the lighting is different and the musicians wear a change of outfits. For the Ravel, the illumination is quite stark and they wear blue. For the Bloch, the ambience is deep red, while for the Janáek the natural colour of the wood panelling in the Concert Hall of Danish Radio is stressed. The three performances, obviously very similar to those on the CD, have the same strengths and negligible weaknesses. Åstrand plays by heart and Salo plays on a Fazioli piano with a lovely touch. No piano is specified for the CD performances. The booklet is well presented. By Tully Potter
Sonatas by Bloch, Ravel & Janacek - CD and DVD
www.classicalsource.com
Wed, 2012-06-27
This is a most distinguished package, featuring two of Denmarks leading musicians who make up a regular duo. Christina Åstrand studied with that wonderful lady Tutter Givskov, who long led the Copenhagen Quartet: I remember speaking with her about her teacher some years ago. Also a pupil of Gérard Poulet, she leads the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Per Salo has a busy solo career and plays the organ in addition to the piano. Together they have recorded the sonatas by Niels Gade and a Nielsen disc. Here they have chosen three sonatas which stand rather at an angle to the central repertoire. Ravel counted a splendid violinist, Hélène Jourdan-Morhange, among his friends and this Sonata (his second, in fact) was dedicated to her, although for health reasons she was unable to give the premiere and George Enescu partnered the composer instead. I have particularly enjoyed the performance by Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian and Emmanuel Strosser (Lontano). Let me say at once that this Scandinavian interpretation is in the same league. Per Salo opens the first movement with the utmost simplicity and Åstrand follows suit. You feel they have a definite point of view and they stick to it, with the violinist stressing purity of tone. The central Blues begins beautifully rhythmically and throughout the pianist shows a fine touch: in the louder parts both players keep a good control of their sound. Salo introduces the finale, Perpetuum mobile, very precisely and it spins along nicely. Ernest Bloch was an excellent violinist, a pupil of Ysaÿe among others, and wrote well for all the stringed instruments. His Second Sonata has never matched up to his First for popularity  only Rafael Druian and Jascha Heifetz recorded it in the good old days  and in general his music is not much played these days. We need a revival. This Sonata plays continuously, although it falls into a number of recognisable sections, too many for its own good: one fewer of both faster and slower sections, and an expansion of the beautiful slower section towards the end, would have made for a more cohesive and effective whole. Significantly, the artists use that lovely slow passage for the title music of their DVD, and Åstrand plays it gorgeously, with real Innigkeit. Although this is not one of Blochs avowedly Jewish works, one very intense section does call his Jewish mode to mind. Åstrand plays the opening of the Sonata, where the violin is on its own, with pure tone, laying out the main theme which is a sort of motto throughout the work. The challenging piano part is no problem for Salo and the artists work well together, right up to the intense fortissimo ending. It adds up to a superb performance, which anyone interested in Bloch should investigate. Janáeks Violin Sonata is particularly successful in the outer movements. The players make a heroic effort to capture the composers individual syntax, which comes naturally to Czech musicians. In the Ballada, it crossed my mind that Åstrand, in particular, was relating the music too much to the general run of Late-Romantic violin music  but if she finds that quality in the piece, why not? She plays beautifully, as does Salo, on whom a lot of the stylistic burden falls; and the little Allegretto before the finale is nicely turned. Like the performance by Repin and Lugansky, this one is so musical that I am won over, despite my allegiance to several Czech versions. The recordings on the CD are excellent. The DVD is very enjoyable. For each work the lighting is different and the musicians wear a change of outfits. For the Ravel, the illumination is quite stark and they wear blue. For the Bloch, the ambience is deep red, while for the Janáek the natural colour of the wood panelling in the Concert Hall of Danish Radio is stressed. The three performances, obviously very similar to those on the CD, have the same strengths and negligible weaknesses. Åstrand plays by heart and Salo plays on a Fazioli piano with a lovely touch. No piano is specified for the CD performances. The booklet is well presented. By Tully Potter
Ravel - Bloch - Janacek
BBC Music Magazine
Mon, 2012-08-27
After recording repertoire by Nielsen and Gade, the Danish performers Christina Astrand and Per Salo have ventured well beyond their native shores with this fascinating programme of early 20th-century violin sonatas. The virtues of a long-established chamber music partnership are immediately evident in the Ravel, where there is a wonderfully subtle interplay between both instruments in the long sustained melodic lines of the rst movement. Åstrand and Salo are equally skilful in the way they negotiate the buildup of tension to the nal climaxes in both the Blues movement and the Perperuum mobile, the latters relentless semiquaver passagework dispatched with dazzling bow control by Åstrand. Janaceks Sonata receives a strongly lyrical and passionate performance. Once again there is much to admire in the players sophisticated employment of rubato throughout the Ballada, and the nal movement achieves an unusual degree of intimacy, despite the conicting nature of the material played by the two instruments. Compared with the Ravel and Janacek, Blochs Poéme mystique of 1924 is a rarity in the concert hall, though Jascha Heifetz famously recorded it in the mid 1950s. A one-movement composition, it is written in Blochs typically rhapsodic style and lasts nearly 25 minutes, perhaps outstaying its welcome. Some of its impressionistic writing, however, is extremely atmospheric, replete with sensuously exotic harmonies. Certainly Åstrand and Salo deliver a powerfully committed and evocative account, the only minor caveat being Åstrands occasional tendency to force the sound in the highest regions of the violin. Beautifully recorded in the sumptuous acoustic of Danish Radios concert hall, this release offers a welcome bonus in the form of a DVD version of the same programme made several months later. Erik Levi
Bloch-Janacek-Ravel
Gramophone
Sat, 2012-09-01
Eveofwar sonatas from DNSO members Åstrand and Salo. Its always fun to play spotthelink with recital discs, and with this cornucopia from Danish husband-and-wife ensemble Christina Åstrand and Per Salo it is immediately clear that its a group of violin sonatas written at around the same time, under the threat of war. Its the variety of background (Paris, America, Prague) that provides the contrast, though, and this is beautifully illustrated by the extraordinary moderation of tone in Åstrands playing, which ranges from strident and tightly honed to a nebulously woody sound that is a colour so other to the music that it lends it a unique extra depth. The disc really centres around Blochs singlemovement second violin sonata (known as the Poeme mystique), and this is largely because of Astrands luminous reading of its other-worldly beauty. She makes perfect sense of the musical arch without the crutch of movement breaks, and contrasts the lyrical passages with an overarching sense of resignation that is so typical of Bloch, showing how at home he is in this sort of writing. This is particularly appealing in the performance of music by a composer who never really found or subscribed to a proper school of music, and even more so in the violin music, which Bloch wrote from the position of a talented player in his own right. This is Bloch at his most essential and Åstrand and Salo really champion him in this performance. Similarly to Bloch, Janacek can risk becoming a wall of sound but instead, between them, Åstrand and Salo sweeten their tone and treat the melodies and harmonies so gently that it draws you in rather than beating you back, at the same time as keeping any potential for schmaltz well protected. The only downside, really, is that the accompanying DVD is a little too much more about effect than music. A recital in ones own home would mean fewer opportunities to scud around the pianists fingers or the violinists reection in the piano lid, and although its a nice idea it can prove busy to the point of distracting. Caroline Gill
Poetic luminosity
Folkbladet
Sat, 2012-11-10
(...) The soloist Christina Åstrand, a phenomena with regard to tone arts, modelled freely with the dynamics and the character. She demonstrated poetic luminosity as well as rough edginess in Nørgård's first violin concerto "Helle Nacht". Sometimes it sounded beautiful, at other times interesting. All through, she was vivacious and fast as a weasel (...). By: Siv Jogfors
Articulated and dynamic
Norrköpings Tidningar
Mon, 2012-11-12
(...) The Danish violinist Christina Åstrand was soloist in the violin concerto "Helle Nacht" from 1987. This music sounded both brighter and softer than the symphonic one. The playing of Åstrand, who has recorded this music, was very articulated and dynamic and she demonstrated a wish to tell something important with the expressive solo voice. There was also fervor in the violin tone. (...)
Discography
Ligeti & Nørgård: Violin Concertos
Emil Hartmann: Concertos
Debussy: Chamber Music
with Per Salo, piano, & Henrik Brendstrup, cello.
Fini Henriques Orchestral and soloworks
Danish Compositions by father and son
Brahms-Ligeti: Horn Trios
with Per Salo, piano og French horn player Jakob Keiding.
Carl Nielsen: The violin sonatas & solo violin works
With Per Salo, piano.
Anders Koppel: Double Concertos
Double Concertos Benjamin Koppel, saxophone Bjarke Mogensen, accordeon Rikke Sandberg, piano Christina Åstrand, violin DR SymfoniOrkestret John Storgårds, conductor
Messiaen: Quator pour la fin du temps
Erik Kaltoft piano LINensemble Jens Schou clarinet Christina Åstrand violin John Ehde cello
N.W. Gade: Violin Sonatas
Piano: Per Salo
Danish Romantic Violin Concertos
Tampere Philharmonic. Conductor: John Storgårds Dacapo: 6 220562
Ravel, Bloch & Janacek - Violin Sonatas
Christina Åstrand (violin) Per Salo (piano) Bloch, E: Violin Sonata No. 2 Poème mystique' Janacek: Violin Sonata Ravel: Violin Sonata in G major CD and DVD Orchid Classics
Press Service

Photo: Dmitri Golovanov

Photo: Dmitri Golovanov

Photo: Dmitri Golovanov

Photo: Dmitri Golovanov

Photo: Dmitri Golovanov

Photo: Dmitri Golovanov

Photo: Dmitri Golovanov

Photo: Dmitri Golovanov

Photo: Dmitri Golovanov

Photo: Dmitri Golovanov

Photo: Dmitri Golovanov

Representation:
DK, NO, SE, FI