VARIATIONS: GOLDBERG + TOPELIUS
“Music is always telling a story, even absolute music like the Goldberg Variations. Performance is by definition storytelling”. Henning Kraggerud and the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra present Bach`s immortal Goldberg Variations in a brand-new version for chamber orchestra coupled with a new set of variations. Kraggerud wrote his Topelius Variations in 2017 following a commission from the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra in Finland. He describes his 15-minute score as inspired by Topelius’s life and works; much like Edvard Grieg in his famous musical commemoration of the writer Ludvig Holberg.
‘All the notes and pitches are Bach’s’, Kraggerud says. Together with Bernt Simen Lund in the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra he has arranged Bach`s Goldberg Variations all over again for chamber orchestra. In their work they`ve used Bach`s own corrections and additions from his first edition, ignoring additions of supplementary notes and the simplification of certain passages found in other arrangements.
BETWEEN THE SEASONS
Extremes - wind, snow, cold, rainfall, thaw and heat - are vividly experienced in Henning Kraggerud's interpretation of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.
Kraggerud manages to capture the climatic range experienced on top of the world in his music-making. And there's more - between each of the seasons.
Inspired by Kremer and Desyatnikov's combination of Vivaldi and Piazzolla, Kraggerud has included four of his own works in between the seasons.
These compositions evoke different connotations and new angles through which we can experience the world's most popular classical work.
Kraggerud's pieces both comment and contrast Vivaldi's moods - positioned as it were between the seasons, forming an eight-spoke wheel.
The album is accompanied by poetic liner notes from award-winning Norwegian author Erik Fosnes Hansen, chronicling Vivaldi's life story and relating it both to the music and also the sonnets that were printed along with the original work: "These admired and loved musical illustrations are like tapestries from a vanished era. They tell of simple, ordinary things that happen in the seasons, with all the drama that can lie in such simple and ordinary events. But just as a year has its seasons, so too does a life. So, let us look more closely at the life of this composer."
Henning Kraggerud is a leading violinist, who is also continuously building his reputation as a composer. Recent examples are included on this album: 'Preghiera', commissioned by the Brodsky Quartet, and 'the last leaf', premièred by the Britten Sinfonia.
Kraggerud is the Artistic Director of the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. His recent release 'Equinox' for Simax Classics, has been hailed all over the world and it has been stated that it "opened a window to a magical world [...] I can't wait to hear the whole thing in action." [BBC Music Magazine *****]
"Kraggerud and the orchestra interleave Vivaldi's concertos with four of Kraggerud's own works"
"he remains true to both the letter and spirit of Vivaldi's music, whilst interpreting it with a sense of freedom, imagination and fantasy which is completely engaging"
"I enjoyed this disc immensely, Kraggerud and the orchestra bring engaging charm to Vivaldi's concertos, playing with a sense of fantasy that never falls into the trap of recomposing, and Kraggerud's own pieces beautifully complement the Vivaldi, making a satisfying whole."
- Robert Hugill, January 2018
"Kraggerud interpolates attractive works of his own between each concerto"
"Kraggerud enjoys the theatre of it all, without over-exaggeration."
"The chill of ‘Winter’ is marked with ponticello playing in the ensemble, and his portrayal of a careful skater is vivid. It is all entertaining, and very well played. The recording is warm and clear."
- The Strad, December 2017
“The idea is brilliant and the concept works… the four compositions by Henning Kraggerud are truly great music, accessible and beautiful, and should be heard by every music lover… The solo playing is stunning, the orchestra, the world’s youngest and northernmost, is fantastic and the recording is superb in every respect… Things couldn’t be better!”
- MusicWeb International, December 2017
"I suppose that most readers are well supplied with recordings of Le quattro stagioni and feel unwilling to invest in another. There are two arguments against that. Firstly, the four compositions by Henning Kraggerud are truly great music, accessible and beautiful, and should be heard by every music lover."
"Secondly, in the bargain you also get one of the best recordings – maybe the best – of the Vivaldi cycle. Maybe you can scrap the ones you already have!"
- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
"The experienced Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud approaches this music with no holds barred, and he succeeds brilliantly. A fresh Norwegian wind blows through Vivaldi’s four seasons on Henning Kraggerud’s new album with the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra from Tromsø."
"“[Kraggerud] has himself composed three pieces of each barely ten minutes duration and inserted them between the Seasons as calming interruptions with shivering resources. The style in his Intermezzi mirrors the simplicity in Baroque Music - like a contemporary, kindly and melancholic echo of Vivaldi´s depictions of nature”
- Politiken, November 2017
"He's partnered here by ‘the world’s youngest and northernmost orchestra', the chamber incarnation of Norway’s Arctic Philharmonic. Naturally I turned to Winter first. Wrap up warm: this performance has even more shocks than Richard Tognetti’s Australian Chamber Orchestra recording. Yes, the ponticello strings at the concerto’s start aren't particularly authentic, but they're viscerally effective. Kraggerud's Largo is on the swift side, but it's warmly beautiful. The final minutes are extraordinary. If you respond positively to this reading, you'll enjoy the rest of the sequence.
I'm reluctant to give away too many surprises: suffice to say that the opening of Spring’s last movement had me collapsing in giggles, and that the storm sequence in Summer made my windows rattle. Kraggerud's flamboyant playing is always at the service of the music, and the orchestral playing is phenomenal."
"The modern interludes work well, welcome snatches of downtime in between the madness [...] Most touching is the third, the last leaf – Magnus in Memorium, a response to the premature death of the composer's musically talented cousin. Erik Fosnes Hansen’s discursive sleeve note is an enjoyable read, and Simax’s engineering is stunning."
- Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, September 2017
"There is no suggestion of mere routine here, but vivid, spontaneous and forceful playing. From the very first bar it is clear that not a single note is played just because it is in the score. Every phrase is charged with energy, achieving the effect of tone painting. The violins sing like birds. This is playing of great virtuosity, and is utterly captivating."
"Both the violinist Kraggerud and the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra which he directs give a performance that is genuinely out of the ordinary. … Kraggerud finds new levels of emotion in the music."
"Kraggerud and this superlative chamber orchestra succeed in rejuvenating this standard work and giving it a contemporary appeal; the intensity of their playing shows that there is still a lot to discover in this score."
- Westdeutscher Rundfunk
"Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud has recently released the CD Between the Seasons. If you are one of those who think Vivaldi’s violin concertos The Four Seasons are worn out from being played far too often, you should listen to Kraggerud playing them. He really takes the music to extremes, and this works phenomenally well, casting new light on this familiar music."
"This is a wonderful CD which never simply seeks sensationalism. It will be indispensable."
"What the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, directed by Kraggerud, achieves in sheer sound and evocative and rhythmic playing is phenomenal. Henning Kraggerud himself plays the violin as Vivaldi, whose musicianship was legendary, must have played it. Vivaldi’s four concertos reveal themselves as dreamily beautiful through this intense and glowing account on this new album"
- Dr Ingobert Waltenberger, Der Neue Merker
"The Entire Year flowering… Henning Kraggerud lifts ‘Quattro Stagioni’ to new heights… the whole (Seasons) is bound together by four compositions by Kraggerud which fit elegantly into the musical picture.... It tells us that both Vivaldi’s and Kraggerud’s music is completely timeless... This is music so beautiful, so genre-busting and ‘peace-creating’ that you could just move right in." (Trans.)
HALVORSEN & NIELSEN: VIOLIN CONCERTOS
Released in 2017, this album features the first commercial recording of the Halvorsen Violin Concerto, alongside the Nielsen Violin Concerto and Svendsen's Romance. In his day, Johan Halvorsen was one of Norway’s most talented violinists and an internationally renowned conductor and composer. With its beautifully lyrical themes and Norwegian character including Hardanger fiddle effects, his Violin Concerto was described by contemporary critics as ‘an outstanding work’ and performed to great acclaim in 1909. It was considered lost, only to be rediscovered in 2015 in the archive of its original soloist. With its equally confident opening and symphonic proportions, Nielsen’s Violin Concerto combines emotive power with a delightfully pastoral character, while Johan Svendsen’s spontaneously inventive and melodic Romance has become one of his best-loved works.
“No doubt other violinists and orchestras will now make a bee-line for the work, but they’ll have a job coming close to this highly charged reading, which burns with conviction – Kraggerud’s playing is quite wonderful.”
– Martin Anderson, KlassiskMusikk.com, March 2017
"It’s the first commercial recording from Halvorsen’s fellow Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud, with the Malmö Symphony orchestra conducted by Bjarte Engeset. It’s difficult to imagine more ardent advocates for this sleeping beauty of a piece. Kraggerud fully appreciates the sound of the Hardanger fiddle that Halvorsen has written into the solo part – especially the finale."
– Andrew McGregor on BBC Radio 3's 'Record Review'
"With an orchestra, which drips heavily of national romantic(ism), Halvorsen lets the violin dance virtuously as an unpredictable forest troll. Kraggerud does Nielsen a favour by pulling some open nature and fresh air from Halvorsens’ world. It removes some unnecessary weight without betraying the score (notes)."
– Politiken, March 2017
"a fabulous demonstration of how a reading based on longer phrases and more connected [as in tenuto] notes can sound at its very best. The interpretation of the score is excellent and do music history a favour by throwing light on Johan Halvorsen as one of the great composers of Norway – a composer operating in a very complex time. "
– MusikkMagasinet, March 2017
"Henning Kraggerud's technical brilliance lends a balanced fluidity to all three works, and each is allowed to betray all the enterprising orchestral colours hidden within each score."
– MVDaily.com, March 2017
MOZART VIOLIN CONCERTOS NOS. 3-5
Henning's Mozart Project unites all strands of his musical life, as a performer, composer and teacher: it includes the release of an album on the Naxos label, as well as a DVD release featuring live performances and two educational masterclasses videos of the Violin Concertos, with more to follow. The DVD also offers seven cadenzas specially composed by Henning, six of which feature on the CD.
Written in 1775 while Mozart was just 19 years old, the Violin Concertos are widely regarded as thrillingly unconventional masterpieces, filled with wit and charm. They are works that Henning has performed many times before. Of his concert at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the International Review of Music commented: "Kraggerud stole the show ... It was Mozart as, one suspects, Mozart himself would have wanted it played”. Henning will also perform the concertos at a series of dates in November 2016 and Spring 2017 with the China NCPA Orchestra, Macao Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Tonkünstler Orchestra.
As well as showcasing these magnificent works, the Mozart Project is designed to aid young performers in their musical education - something Henning has a great deal of experience with, in his permanent teaching posts at Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he is International Chair in Violin. The DVD features masterclass videos which can be used as a tool for audition preparation, as they are amongst the most commonly requested audition repertoire. However, Henning strongly encourages young performers to form their own interpretation of these works. Speaking about the project, he comments: “The true sign of a masterpiece must lie in the number of possible interpretations inherent in it.”
Setting him aside from many other violinists of today, and in the spirit of the old masters such as Fritz Kreisler and Eugène Ysaÿe, Henning is also a renowned composer. This latest release showcases his work, as it features a selection of cadenzas especially composed by him.
The Mozart Project has been made possible with the support of Dextra Musica, a subsidiary of Sparebankstiftelsen DNB, a generous contributor to the arts and music in Norway.
"When Henning Kraggerud and his excellent orchestra take on three of Mozart's Violin Concertos, they give this teenager's music a restlessness in stride which makes it say something more than just spill over with its genius thoughts and ideas. With delightful fresh thinking, they make Mozart sing and dance as if we watched him shake off all the world's authorative weights and become impervious to its judgmental glares; liberating, mischievous with sudden strokes of darkness, which even made these concertos Astrid Lindgren's favourite music. Best track: II Adagio, from Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major.”
- Martin Nyström, Dagens Nyheter, June 2016, 5/5
Henning Kraggerud has “developed an ideal classical sound with substance, warmth and beauty at the very core … It is a delight to hear this CD and Kraggerud’s superior interaction with his instrument … there is a sense of natural ease in his playing. At the same time, there is something imaginative and inventive in even the predictable moments, and much of this is due to his timbre and sound.”
- Magnus Andersson, Musikk Magasinet from Klassekampen newspaper, June 2016
“Henning Kraggerud is directing the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, as well as supplying his own cadenzas … it’s so alive with such engaging articulation and really crisp exchanges with the orchestra … the slow movements in all three concertos flow beautifully, played with a very light, sweet, singing tone and the recording places Kraggerud just in front of the ensemble … not too close, really intelligently balanced. Kraggerud’s cadenzas work very well I think - a better match in terms of period style than the more romantic ones of Joachim and Kreisler, something Kraggerud tries to pass on to his students. This CD is part of a bigger project: a series of filmed performances of the concertos and masterclasses he’s putting on DVD during the autumn. "
- Andrew McGregor, Record Review, BBC Radio 3, July 2016
"The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra has something of a reputation for working harmoniously with guest soloists-directors, not least among them Leif Ove Andsnes in concertos by Mozart and Haydn ... Those discs with Andsnes were conspicuously successful,both artistically and critically, and this new project with Henning Kraggerud is no less winning … The thinking that underpins their shaping right from the very beginning makes these readings of the Third, Fourth and Fifth concertos worth returning to.”
“Kraggerud provides his own cadenzas throughout, which demonstrate both his dexterity and his sympathy for the idiom, and never feel like anachronistic accretions. The sound and balance, too, are ideal, with the soloist integrated fully within the orchestral picture, just as he should be.”
- David Threasher, Gramophone, July 2016
"Fancy fresh Mozart? On the cover of this CD, you can see three somewhat thin trees and a broken trunk. They were probably caught in the wind, which also ruffled Henning Kraggerud’s Mozart Violin Concertos quite well. If you have long been waiting for an exciting Mozart experience, then this CD is for you. Henning Kraggerud, soloist and conductor in Mozart's Violin Concertos Nos. 3, 4 and 5 is, gets quite cheeky with the music, but remains true to the text and style. His breezy music blows away a lot of dust, making room for new colours and new dynamics. Here, the directing soloist gives a fresh and powerful performance, while also beautiful and artistic. The orchestral sound of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra is elegant and fascinates with a large variety of colours. Henning and the Orchestra are in a perfect dialogue, and the interpretations seem free and alive, because they balance out the drama and work's dramatic curve. The almost improvisatory effect is enhanced by Kraggerud’s own cadenzas, which bring additional new value to the recording.”
- Remy Franck, Pizzicato, July 2016, 5*
"An all but perfect Mozart ... As a soloist and conductor [Henning] also initiates the way the orchestra is playing: sensitive, but nowhere conceited in the slow movements, the outer movements seemingly effortless, unaffected and above all very dashing. A lively and very cultivated Mozart as to timbre, interestingly enough in order not to rub him artificially up the wrong way. Tiny variations in the colouring, breath-thin delays, here and there a little more weight on the bow – these are niceties in the rhetoric through which Kraggerud and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra make the music of Mozart speak without seeking to play forth the great sensation."
- Franziska v. Busse, NDR Kultur, August 2016 (CD of the Week)
"Even in an age when technical cleanliness and accuracy can be taken virtually for granted, Kraggerud’s buoyant, mellifluous spontaneity and spotless intonation are in a class apart. Although tempos are free-flowing (with a total timing just a shade over 66 minutes), such is Kraggerud’s infectiously smiling way with these delightful scores that there isn’t the slightest hint of breathlessness. A triumph for all concerned, guaranteed to blow away any musical cobwebs."
- Julian Haylock, The Strad, September 2016
“In the Fourth Concerto, there’s a lovely singing character to the central Andante, Kraggerud producing a variety of tone which matches the changing intensity of the line. Here, as in all the concertos, he plays his own cadenzas, which are stylish in the best sense, and show off his technique”
- BBC Music Magazine, September 2016
" Recordings of Mozart’s violin concertos are surely in rich supply. That there is still something to be added on this theme, has recently Frank Zimmermann shown, now he is followed by Henning Kraggerud on the highest level. To listen to the Norwegian violinist, who was by the way a teacher for Vilde Frang, is a pleasure. We are here listening to a Mozart playing of the most exquisite kind, winged a buoyant, musicianly and elegant from the first to the final note. A particular stamp is moreover put by Kraggerud by means of his own cadenzas. The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra is an equal partner for him and thus a total result is achieved on reference level.
-Norbert Hornig, Fonoforum, October 2016 (Album of the Month)
Released internationally in September 2015, Equinox is the latest composition from Henning Kraggerud. The work comprises four concertos - Afternoon, Evening, Night and Morning - each of which consists of six postludes, making 24 in all. These postludes are written in 24 keys and depict 24 hours and 24 time zones, taking the listener on a kaleidoscopic tour across the world and time, and journeying musically through the circle of fifths, beginning in C major. The postludes are by turn joyful, mournful, effervescent and heart-wrenching.
Equinox was premiered in 2014 at the opening concert of the Northern Lights Festival in Tromsø, and later performed with Jostein Gaarder narrating in Bodø. Gaarder and Kraggerud performed it again at Risør Festival in June 2015.
"Kraggerud has composed the music and it is beautiful, varied, full of unexpected turns and touching. He has created room for the individual musicians to shine. It is precise as well as generous and spacious - and a fantastically good listen...."
- Anki Gerhardsen, Avisa Nordland, August 2014
"Equinox is a fascinating composition to return to over and over again"
- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International, August 2015
"Kraggerud sticks to a lush, late-Romantic idiom and delivers a beautifully clean, superbly articulated performance of his self-composed solo line throughout, full of character and wit."
- David Kettle, The Strad, November 2015
"Hearing [Henning] play as a Prom encore the tenth of his 24 'Postludes in All Keys' ... opened a window on a magical world ... [the music] is endlessly resourceful and surprising ... from meditation to lopsided dance, it is extraordinary. I can't wait to hear the whole thing in action.”
- David Nice, BBC Music Magazine, November 2015
“Henning Kraggerud… shows in a masterly way the universality of the language of music... These short compositions create the perfect connection between contemporary musical language and a classical artistic form and concept…. We are presented with a great work, rich in different stylistic and artistic aspects, but at the same time containing very diverse emotional layers.”
- Muzyka 21, five stars, February 2016
UNDER THE WING OF THE ROCK
Released in November 2015, Under the Wing of the Rock features music from Norway and the British Isles composed within the last seventy years. Not surprisingly, the musical idiom is modern, but at the same time the composers whose works are performed here – Benjamin Britten, Sally Beamish, Arne Nordheim, Olav Anton Thommessen and Henning Kraggerud – all find inspiration in earlier musical styles and traditions.
Performed by Henning Kraggerud (violin), Soon-Mi Chung (viola) and the Oslo Camerata, the works range from singingly lyrical to impulsively tempestuous.
1. Under the Wing of the Rock - Sally Beamish
2. Voyage Douloureux - Henning Kraggerud
3. Brudd - Arne Nordheim
4. Til Sara - Henning Kraggerud
5. Portrait en Chaconne - Olav Anton Thommessen
6. Lachrymae - Benjamin Britten
The disc features two of Henning's own compositions: Til Sara (for violin and viola) and Voyage Douloureux (for two violas). Til Sara is in F major, with a middle section mostly in D minor. It is for the most part light and lyrical in character. Voyage Douloureux is in D minor, with a second subject briefly in F major. The form is close to A-B-C-B-A, where C is a development section. As the title suggests, this piece is more tormented in character; however, the music at times expresses an inordinate joy, almost manic in its intensity.
"This recording is almost perfectly put together. Two glorious works from international composers frame four Norwegian compositions which, in different ways, are just as glorious."
- Trond Erikson, Den Klassiske CD, January 2016
"Henning Kraggerud has written two smaller works: 'Voyage Douloreux' for two violas and 'Til Sara' for violin and viola. The pieces could almost be called "utility music" and work well for teaching purposes. In this record they work optimally, as they give the disc some breathing space. A bit of a genius stroke."
- Trond Erikson, Den Klassiske CD, January 2016
"[Voyage Doulouqreux] starts off melancholy, but soon becomes, in the composer’s words, joyful and almost manic. It’s an interesting piece, well-played and with much to recommend repeated listens. Kraggerud returns with Til Sara, for violin and viola, composed in 1996. Here again, the music is expressive and filled with emotion."
- Mel Martin, Audiophile Audition, January 2016
Download via the iTunes store.
BUGGE & HENNING, LAST SPRING
Recorded in Oslo's famous Rainbow Studio, Last Spring is a collaboration between Henning Kraggerud and jazz pianist Bugge Wesseltoft. As the title intimates, the disc is a revisiting of spring, seamlessly blending the styles of jazz and classical music. It is not an exulting, whirling awakening, but a sustained, minimalistic meditation, oriented strongly towards the details and the variance of the melodies. It is based on the interaction between Wesseltoft's soft piano daubs and the pizzicato melodies that Kraggerud entices out of his 1744 Guarneri violin, his Harald Lund viola and his unique six-stringed viola Concorda.
“The melodies, beautifully played on violin, echo with solitude, loss and the fear of imminent departure. Piano sustains the plaintive undercurrent, ripples gently through the cadences of their chosen themes, and occasionally pauses for a mutual, optimistic and stately flourish.”
- Financial Times, GB
“This is an album where the traditional turns timeless ... an album that fills you with solemnity and inner joy”
- Dagsavisen, NO
Not often today’s music is of such quiet dignity and intensity. The two Norwegians break all conventions and have created a collection of instrumental songs, which could stand as a universal standard of musical beauty.
- Jazzpodium (DE)
"Beautifully recorded and urgently recommended”
- Classical Music Magazine,
(5/5, Editor’s Choice)
LP now available:
ALSO AVAILABLE ON ITUNES
Sverre Indris Joner: Con Cierto Toque De Tango
Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D Minor
Sinding: Violin Concerto No. 1
Bjarte Engeset & Henning Kraggerud
Norwegian Violin Favorites
Bull/Sinding/Halvorsen/Grieg/S & Henning Kraggerud
Ysaÿe: Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27
Mozart: Divertimento, K. 563 - String Trio, K. 562e
Henning Kraggerud, Lars Anders Tomter & Christoph Richter
Marcus Paus: Odes and Elegies
Loves Last Rites
Henning Kraggerud & Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra
Grieg: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-3
Sinding: Music for Violin and Piano, Vol. 1
Henning Kraggerud & Christian Ihle Hadland
Grieg: 3 Concerti for Violin & Chamber Orchestra Based on the Sonatas for Violin and Piano
Henning Kraggerud & Tromso Chamber Orchestra
Spohr.: Concertos for 2 Violins, Nos. 1 and 2
Henning Kraggerud, Stephan Barratt-Due, Oslo Camerata, Barratt Due Chamber Orchestra & Øyvind Bjorå