About this Recording
8.572255 - SINDING, C.: Violin and Piano Music, Vol. 2 (Kraggerud, Hadland)

Christian Sinding (1856–1941)
Music for Violin and Piano • 2


The Norwegian composer Christian Sinding was born in English translation: Christine Ihle Kongsberg in Southern Norway in 1856, but moved at the age of five to Oslo, where he lived until he headed for the famous Leipzig Conservatory at the age of eighteen. Sinding spent several periods in Germany, and though he was considered as a more than fair performer both as a violinist and a pianist, he realised at an early stage that being a performer would lead nowhere. As his career as a conductor also failed, Sinding became one of the very few composers subsisting purely from writing music. This can also be seen in his compositions, which are perfectly suited to a time when private concerts in upper-class homes were common. This created a market for piano pieces, songs and similar compositions. Sinding’s publishers realised this, and strongly encouraged him to increase the production of songs and short instrumental works. Sinding disliked this, and this can also explain the great fluctuations in his work, but at least provides more than enough material to fill two CDs with fine music.

The Prelude in G major, Op. 43, No. 3, reveals Sinding’s ability to create an unbroken chain of melody played by the violin, accompanied by a sparkling piano part. Perhaps these were written in the aftermath of Frühlingsrauschen (The Rustle of Spring). Sinding’s most famous work was published a few years earlier, but stayed popular for years. This composition was published by a great range of publishing houses both in Europe and America, and was widely performed. Owing to the absence of satisfactory laws of copyright, Sinding made little from all these performances and sales, and in consequence became a spokesman for the rights of composers to derive income from their work.

All his life Sinding composed in a late-romantic style. This was heavily criticized, and he was blamed for not developing or expanding his musical language. Perhaps he wished to avoid this when he wrote his Sonate im alten Stil, Op. 99. Except the title, little of this piece reminds us of earlier times. It contains an innovative fourth movement with the main part in 5/4 and a middle part in 7/4. Simultaneously, Sinding wrote one of his many Romances. The Romance in D major, Op. 100, was originally for violin and orchestra, but the arrangement for piano and violin is by the composer.

Sinding returns to melancholy in Abendlied, Op. 89, No. 3, and Romance in E minor, Op. 30. They both have an element of folk style, but are more Nordic in expression than purely Norwegian. The first part of the Ballade in C minor, Op. 61, No. 3, brings us nearer to the Balkans than the peaceful Scandinavia. Experimenting with new forms, however, was not new to Sinding. A major event during his career, attracting huge attention, was his début as a a cabaret composer at the age of almost seventy. The song bearing the highly incorrect title “Kokain” fully revealed that Sinding was not stuck in old conventional ways, and still possessed an obstinate, rebellious attitude.

It was, indeed, only a few years earlier, that Sinding for the very first time acquired a permanent address. Having spent most of his life in hotels and boardinghouses, he now moved to a Norwegian grace-and-favour residence, Grotten. Owned by the Norwegian state, it is given as a permanent residence to a person specifically bestowed this honour by the King of Norway.

A glance at Eastern Europe might be traced in Sinding’s Elegie in D minor, Op. 61, No. 2, composed simultaneously with the already mentioned Ballade. The full and expressive piano part brings to mind Russia and Sergey Rachmaninov.

The last piece included is Sinding’s final work for violin and piano, Abendstimmung, Op. 120a. Similar to the Romance mentioned above, this is a refined piece, originally written for orchestra. New forms can be heard – the slow introduction reveals a hint of impressionism, followed by musical colours similar to those of his contemporaries Gabriel Fauré and Gustav Mahler, but the distinguishing features of Sinding are easily recognisable, sensitive and sweet unbroken melodic lines and lively harmonies Why is Sinding’s music no longer performed? Together with Grieg, he was Norway’s most famous composer, played and celebrated all over Europe.

The explanation is obvious. Thanks to the Norwegian baritone Per Vollestad’s superb Sinding biography, the official view has been revised. This version claims that after 9 April 1940, Sinding volunteered his services to the occupying German forces, paying tribute to the German invasion of Norway, and that he applied to be a member of the German National Socialist Party. In view of his stay of some forty years in Germany, this certainly could make sense, but the reality is quite different. On the day of the German invasion, Sinding was interviewed on Swedish radio. Being nearly deaf and suffering from senile dementia, he was still severely upset by the events of the day; he could hardly believe the Germans were responsible for the invasion. The application was never signed by Sinding himself, and Reichscommisar Terboven was supposed to take care of the payment. Consequently Sinding was registered as a member, without his conscious assent.

The time has come to be rid of historical delusions, and to restore Sinding to fame and honour. He remains, without doubt, one of Norway’s most prominent personalities and it is hoped this recording will help to place him again in his proper position in the history of his country and its music.

Christian Ihle Hadland
English translation: Christine Ihle

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