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James Manheim, November 2009

As the high opus numbers shown on this disc of violin-and-piano music reveal, he was very popular for a long time, in Norway and beyond, and he’s certainly a good candidate for the kind of revival project in which the Naxos label has specialized. He was a staple of anthologies of classical music for home use, and the pieces on the program here give a good idea of why. Sinding was no Grieg, but he could spin a good melody in the small scale and draw a logical larger structure from modest material in a piece like the Cantus Doloris, Op. 78 (track 1). The other piece that definitively departs from the conventional is the Suite im alten Stil, Op. 10 (Suite in the Old Style), written in 1906 and a favorite of no less than Jascha Heifetz and Fritz Kreisler. Perhaps it even inspired the latter violinist, who went on to create a group of forgeries in a somewhat similar style (it’s the opening Presto in Sinding’s piece that gives an idea of how the early twentieth century imagined Baroque music) that he passed off as genuine Baroque works. The rest, made up of pieces in salon forms like the waltz Albumblatt, and most effectively the berceuse, is never less than pleasant in the able renditions by the young Norwegian musicians Henning Kraggerud (violin), playing a fine Guarneri instrument, and Christian Ihle Hadland (piano)…

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2009

Rarely do you encounter a disc where the performers are so obviously deeply in love with the music they are playing. It comes as part of a new initiative by Henning Kraggerud and Christian Ihle Hadland who have delved into the output of the Norwegian composer, Christian Sinding. Today he is little known apart from the famous Rustle of Spring, but during his lifetime—which came to an end in 1941—he had composed in many genres. A student in Liepzig and Munich, and coming to international attention with a fine Piano Quintet, efforts to restore him to his rightful high place in Norwegian music have usually yielded little result. The two young performers turned their attention to the music held in the National Library in Oslo, and in so doing have rediscovered some gorgeous salon works. Mostly lasting just a few minutes, they are perfectly crafted pieces that fall readily and attractively on the ear. As a sampler try track 5, Alte Weise, to enjoy both the beautiful simplicity of the music and the quality of the playing. The only extended score is the Suite in A minor, and one of his better known works when it was later orchestrated. Three Waltzes—the music for one of them apparently found in a jumble sale—are charming cameos, while the attractive Romance should be part of the standard repertoire. The duo have chosen one of Sinding’s most haunting melodies, Cantus doloris, to open the disc, the music played at the funeral of his wife in 1936. Kraggerud’s intonation is unfailingly pure, and in Hadland we have one of the most poetic pianists I have heard in recent times. Sound quality is impeccable.

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