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CHAN 9830
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CHAN 9830

Ligeti & Norgard: Violin Concertos

The Classical Shop
release date: June 2000

Originally recorded in 1999


Danish National Symphony Orchestra


Thomas Dausgaard


Christina Astrand



Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen


Brian Couzens


Claus Due



Jorn Jacobsen

Record Label



Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 67:05
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Select Complete Single Disc for

Violin Concerto (1989-92)*

1 I Praeludium 4:13
2 II Aria, Hoquetas, Chorale 7:55
3 III Intermezzo 2:31
4 IV Passacaglia 7:06
5 V Appassionato 7:39



Helle Nacht: Violin Concerto (1986-7)*

  Late Night  
  Four movements for violin and orchestra  
6 I Allegro moderato 7:07
7 II Adagio 4:30
8 III Allegretto leggero 5:21
9 IV Poco allegro 6:42

Sonata 'The Secret Melody'

10 I Prologue 1:30
11 II Roaming 3:03
12 III Singing 3:08
13 IV Playing 4:23
14 V Epilogue 1:57
Christina Åstrand performs a fascinating disc featuring three twentieth-century violin masterpieces.

This disc features the premiere recording of Nørgård’s Helle Nacht and ‘The Secret Melody’, and only the second recording of Ligeti’s Violin Concerto. This disc will make a very interesting addition to Chandos’ expanding contemporary music catalogue.

Having begun her career at the age of four, and furthered her studies in Paris, Christina Åstrand gave her first solo performance in 1990 when, at very short notice, she performed Sofia Gubaidulina’s Violin Concerto ‘Offertorium’. Since then she has been a frequent soloist with the leading Scandinavian orchestras.

Thomas Dausgaard and the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra have released three on Chandos – most recently Liszt’s A Faust Symphony (CHAN 9814).

The Hungarian-born György Ligeti and the Dane Per Nørgård are two of the most individual and influential figures in the music of our time. Written within a few years of each other, their violin concertos both have solo parts that combine brilliance and lyricism in the true concerto tradition, though in unconventional ways. Both place these solo parts within orchestral writing of layered complexity, with an overall plan of more than the traditional three movements. And, more coincidentally, both concertos require departures from conventional tunings and make use of melodies written much earlier in their respective composers’ careers.

Ligeti composed his Violin Concerto between 1989 and 1992 for the German violinist Sachko Gawriloff. It is in five movements and the soloist is accompanied by a chamber orchestra of ten wind players, percussion and eleven solo strings. Ligeti’s long-standing interest in tunings other than those of conventional equal temperament are manifested in several ways. At several points brass players are instructed to play natural harmonics; a solo violin and viola from within the orchestra are instructed to retune their instruments; wind instruments are instructed to inflect their pitch up or down, while other wind instruments not normally found in a symphony orchestra are introduced to ‘soften’ the tuning.

Per Nørgård composed ‘Helle Nacht’, his first violin concerto, in 1986 and 1987, for the Hungarian-born Danish violinist Anton Kontra. The orchestra is substantial and includes a piano and three percussionists. The only deviation from standard tunings is to be found in the use of the phenomenon of ‘beating’ – the pulsations heard when a note is played against itself (or its octave) in slightly different tunings. At the end of the first movement, beats between the solo violin and the first cello are gradually resolved to smoothness; at the end of the second movement the same thing happens between two strings of the solo violin. And for much of the third movement, pairs of woodwind instruments produce varying ‘beat-tones’. The concerto is in four movements, and although it is frequently complex in nature, it is based on essentially simple materials.

Nørgård’s Sonata ‘The Secret Melody’ was written for the Japanese violist Nobuko Imai. The five movements of the sonata circumscribe a hidden melody: a clear melodic shape appears but soon reveals itself to be part of a superior melody – and so on.

‘… the Danish National RSO under Thomas Dausgaard clearly enjoying the work’s pounding rhythms… thoroughly enjoyable disc.’
BBC Music Magazine on CHAN 9645 (Bach to the Future)

‘…he [Thomas Dausgaard] is clearly a conductor of real gifts… The recording is spacious and very satisfying.’
Gramophone on CHAN 9601 (Zemlinksy)

‘Thomas Dausgaard conducts an eloquent performance, cleanly recorded.’
The Sunday Telegraph on CHAN 9601 (Zemlinsky)

As the brilliant Christina Åstrand shows, both concertos treat the violin as a singing instrument… the melody isnt dead, its being reincarnated in challenging new forms…
BBC Music Magazine ‘Critics’ Choice’

J Serafi