NIELSEN: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2. Prelude, Theme & Variations, Op. 48. Preludio e Presto. Violin Sonata in G, CNW 62. Romances in D & G. Polka in A. Grüss / Hasse Borup, vln; Andrew Staupe, pno / Naxos 8.573870
I am a huge Carl Nielsen admirer and in fact have the Violin Sonata No. 1 in A on another CD, but had not heard these other pieces before. Hasse Borup appears to be a Danish-American violinist who studied at Oberlin and the University of Maryland who is now a professor of violin and head of string studies at the University of Utah School of Music.
Undoubtedly the most interesting aspect of this CD is the inclusion of early, formerly unrecorded works, the fragment of Grüss or Greeting from 1890, the Romance in G from 1888, and a Polka in A from as far back as 1873 when the composer was only 18 years old. My impression of Borup from the Sonata No. 1 is of a very fine musician and interpreter who doesn’t have the most pleasant tone. Indeed, the acidic quality of his violin playing reminds me a bit of Josef Szigeti, but since I can take Szigeti I can certainly take Borup although I prefer the playing of Johannes Søe Hansen on a Membran CD in this work. Just don’t come complaining to me about Bronislaw Huberman’s tone after hearing Borup. Andrew Staupe is a superb pianist who really digs into this music and presents it in its best light.
Oddly enough, Borup’s tone sounds considerably better in the previously unrecorded pieces, particularly in the Romance in G where he is quite acceptable indeed. This is a very fine piece, one that clearly belongs in the Nielsen canon. The a cappella polka is a cute piece which can always be played as an encore, Grüss is a more lyrical piece which sounds as if it is based somewhat on Danish folk music.
So there you have it. Nielsen aficionados will probably want this album for the unrecorded works, but as for the others there are several good alternative performances out there.
—© 2020 Lynn René Bayley
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