Tor Aulin: Master Olof; Swedish Dances; Dances from Gotland / Niklas Willén

What a delightful disc this is! If you haven’t already, I suggest that you start playing the audio sample that accompanies this recommendation before reading on – go ahead, I can wait.

The music on this cpo CD is by Swedish composer Tor Aulin (1866-1914). If you are listening to the sample right now, what you are hearing is the opening track on the CD, the first of Four Swedish Dances, op. 32 performed by the WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln under Niklas Willén. It’s hard to imagine anyone listening to this high-spirited and jovial, flat out ebullient music, who would not want to hear more! While all the music on this CD isn’t this upbeat – there are some somber stretches – most of it is; and all of it is unfailingly attractive. Aside from the Swedish Dances, the program also includes Three Dances from Gotland, op. 28 and the orchestral suite from Aulin’s incidental music to the play Master Olof, op. 22.

A child prodigy, Aulin (1866-1914) became an accomplished pianist and preeminent violinist. He enjoyed associations with some of the most important musicians and composers of his day, including Grieg, Stenhammer and Saint- Saëns. Aulin served as concertmaster of the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm and was conductor of the Stockholm Orchestra Society from 1902 until 1909. In that post, he championed the music of his Swedish compatriots. While, in most of his other music, Aulin wrote in a style consistent with prevailing European trends, in these Dances, he captures a national romantic Swedish style similar to what Grieg produced in his Norwegian Dances.

While there’s nothing profound here, this charming, colorful and sunny music will brighten whatever situation occupies you, and that in itself will make this a welcome addition to your collection.

Album Overview

Tor Aulin was primarily a violin virtuoso and the first violinist of a world-famous string quartet. He had received solid training from the acclaimed violinist Emil Sauret in Berlin and during the 1890s was regarded as Scandinavia’s most important violin soloist. He was on close friendly terms with Henri Marteau, Edvard Grieg, and Wilhelm Stenhammar, and the outstanding pianist Stenhammar often served as his accompanist. Aulin also gained renown as a composer. His Violin Concerto No. 3, for example, was one of the works in Marteau’s standard repertoire. His personal dealings with August Strindberg were remarkable. Apart from Aulin, Ture Rangström was the only composer on friendly terms with the eccentric dramatist. He alone gave the peace-loving Aulin such a kid-glove treatment. Strindberg bombarded him with suggestions for compositions and wanted him to transform his dramas into operas. In the end, however, these ideas did not produce any concrete results. Aulin nevertheless wrote a wonderful piece of incidental music for Mäster Olof, and Peterson-Berger characterized this work as follows: “Everything is maintained in a simple, euphonious Swedish style with quiet allusions to the German Renaissance as we know it, for instance, from the Meistersinger.”


Composer: Tor Aulin

Tor Aulin (1866 – 1914) was a Swedish violinist, conductor and composer. Aulin studied music at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (1877-1883) and then in the Conservatory of Berlin (1884-1886) with Émile Sauret and Philipp Scharwenka. From 1889 to 1892 Aulin served as concertmaster of the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm.

Conductor: Niklas Willén

Niklas Willén, the finest Swedish conductor of his generation, is Chief Conductor of the WDR Radio Orchestra Köln. Niklas Willén’s career is increasingly focussed in Germany, throughout Scandinavia and the Nordic countries with several of the principal orchestras of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland and the major Swedish opera houses conducting the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

Orchestra: WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln (WDR Radio Orchestra Köln)

The WDR Radio Orchestra Cologne (WRO) in its present form was established in 1947. Several small and large instrumental formations, whose foundation partly dates back to 1927, the year went on in it.Today, the prominent figurehead of the WDR has 56 members, and it is the only European orchestra that specializes in popular music with the full range.


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