|An Interview with HENNING KRAGGERUD|
Henning Kraggerud (born in Oslo, Norway 1973) has established himself
as one of Scandinavia`s leading international soloists. Among his teachers
are Camilla Wicks, Emanuel Hurwitz and Stephan Barratt-Due. As a recitalist
and chamber musician Kraggerud has performed with Leif Ove Andsnes, Martha
Argerich, Renaud Capucon, Havard Gimse, Helge Kjekshus, Stephen Kovacevich,
Truls Mork, Kathryn Stott and Pieter Wispelwey.
His new recording of the Sibelius 'Violin Concerto' on Naxos is released
in September 2004 (8.557266)
What first attracted you to the violin?
I had always wanted to start, because my older brother already played
violin. He is now a conductor and professor in violin!
I understand you recorded the Sibelius on a rare Guarneri violin
dating back to 1744 - how did this come about?
This Guarneri del Gesu goes under the name "Ole Bull" to
whom it belonged in the 19th century. He was a Norwegian virtuoso. Schumann
said, "Nobody plays the violin like him, in many ways he superior
to Paganini!" I am currently participating in a documentary/movie
about his life, which will premiere in under a year. It was the "Chi-Mei
foundation" in Taiwan that most generously lent this violin to me
for three months. It was at the end of this 3-month period that I recorded
the Sibelius Violin Concerto and Sinding with the Bournemouth Symphony
Orchestra and Bjarte Engeset. For this recording, I also borrowed Ole
Bull's own violin bow, which is a longer than normal bow. This really
suits the violin, and is the only known bow existing of its kind.
What was the experience of playing this violin?
When I picked it up in Tainan, it had hardly been played for a decade.
It was extremely dark and unclear, but showed immediately signs of greatness.
I was allowed to set it up with a new bridge and sound post adjustments
- by the excellent violinmaker Harald Lund. This helped a lot, and during
the three months I had it, it developed and became better and better;
gaining overtones and fantastic clarity. It was clear to me that I was
playing one of the great violins. And who knows how good it could have
become after a couple of years! I am really sad for not being able to
play it now. I miss its palette of colours, and its enormous, warm, full
sound, which in an almost 3 dimensional way, filled all the different
rooms I performed in!
What makes the Sibelius concerto such a fine example of the genre?
It is a concerto with aspects of loneliness, desperation, anger, passion,
drama, but also beauty, tenderness, fragility, sorrow and heroic joy.
All told with such an epic sense that even when some passages are repeated,
the music makes them as fresh as the first time you heard it.
Are there any other similar violin concertos that you feel are underrated
or not performed enough nowadays?
It depends what you call similar... Sibelius is one of the most individualistic
composers to play and work with. There is one that springs to mind, a
Norwegian concerto. This is Klaus Egge's Violin Concerto of 1950, which
is a Nordic work harking back to Bartok's second Violin Concerto. Also
Carl Nielsen shares some characteristics with Sibelius. I would say that
although the Sibelius is well known, it deserves an even more prominent
place in the repertoire!