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Vilde Frang plays Mozart
Following the success of her discs of Romantic and Late Romantic repertoire, Vilde Frang has recorded Mozart’s Concertos Nos. 1 and 5 ‘Turkish’ and the Sinfonia Concertante K364, enabling music lovers to hear the Norwegian violinist perform Classical repertoire on disc for the first time. The impetus for this album was a 2012 orchestral tour of Asia conducted by Jonathan Cohen in which Vilde performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5. The vibrancy of their musical collaboration was something both artists were keen to repeat and commit to disc. Jonathan’s Cohen’s chamber orchestra, Arcangelo, proved the ideal partner, joined by violist Maxim Rysanov in the Sinfonia Concertante.
Today we tend to think of Mozart as a keyboard virtuoso but he was also an accomplished violinist. Indeed, in 1769, aged 13, he was appointed honorary concertmaster of the Salzburg Court Orchestra. For many years, it was believed that Mozart composed all five of his violin concertos in 1775, but analysis of handwriting and of the manuscript paper suggests the actual date of the first concerto, K207, was 1773. Filled with brilliant passage work, it is generally characterised by high spirits and is filled with dazzling semiquaver and demisemiquaver passages reflecting the influence of such Baroque Italian virtuosi and composers as Pietro Nardini, Pietro Locatelli and Gaetano Pugnani.
Each of Mozart’s subsequent violin concertos, all composed in 1775, is longer and on a larger scale than the preceding one. By the fifth and last, he had created a work still clearly within the Classical concerto tradition yet, in terms of both length and technical demands, approaching the instrumental concertos of the century to come. The Concerto No. 5 K219 is often referred to as the “Turkish” because of its frenzied Allegro section in the middle of the final movement.
Mozart was experimenting with the cross-over form between symphony and concerto during a tour of Europe in 1779. The result was his Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, composed in Salzburg that same year and probably the greatest of his concertante works. The eminent musicologist Alfred Einstein called it Mozart’s “crowning achievement in the field of the violin concerto” and added that, “Every trace of galanterie has disappeared” to be replaced by the “revelation of the deepest feeling.”
Vilde Frang, born in Norway in 1986, has established herself as one of the leading violinists of her generation, in demand for her musicianship and virtuosity and notable for her thoughtful interpretations and natural sense of style. Since her appearance with Mariss Jansons and the Oslo Philharmonic when she was twelve years old, her career has developed organically and on her own terms. She has appeared on the world’s leading concert stages with the most prestigious orchestras under the batons of the most admired conductors, as well as in recital and chamber music with such colleagues as Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Martha Argerich, Janine Jansen, Leif Ove Andsnes and Maxim Vengerov. With her mentor Anne-Sophie Mutter, she has toured Europe and the U.S. in Bach’s Double Concerto. In 2012 Vilde was chosen to receive the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award, which sponsored her debut with the Vienna Philharmonic under Bernard Haitink at the 2012 Lucerne Summer Music Festival. Her recordings of concertos by Sibelius, Prokofiev, Nielsen and Tchaikovsky and sonatas by Grieg, R. Strauss and Bartók for EMI Classics, now Warner Classics, won Edison Klassiek and Classic BRIT awards, the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, the Diapason d’Or and a Gramophone Award nomination. Vilde’s 2014/2015 season includes many performances of Mozart concertos.
Under its founder, artistic director and conductor Jonathan Cohen, Arcangelo brings together exceptional musicians who excel on both historical and modern instruments and have a passion for faithful interpretation. Its members, many with flourishing solo and chamber music careers, value the collaboration required of chamber music as the highest expression of music making. Since its formation in 2010, Arcangelo has made a dramatic impact on the musical scene and has already recorded half a dozen albums to high acclaim, including a Gramophone award.
Violist Maxim Rysanov was born in the Ukraine and studied there and at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Winner of the 2008 Classic FM Gramophone Young Artist of the Year award and a former BBC New Generation Artist, he performs widely in Europe, Asia and America. His chamber music partners include Leif Ove Andsnes, Nicola Benedetti, Martin Fröst, Sol Gabetta, Janine Jansen, Gidon Kremer, Mischa Maisky, Victoria Mullova, Vadim Repin and Maxim Vengerov. Through collaborations with such composers as Dobrinka Tabakova, Richard Dubugnon and Valentin Bibik – and many others – he has helped to extend the repertoire for the viola.
“The First Concerto is immediately captivating: light, energetic and brightly coloured...Frang has the knack of breathing life into every note, whether by variations in phrasing, attack, tone or dynamic...There are two complimentary personalities at work in the Sinfonia Concertante...Compelling listening throughout, with button-bright sound.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2015 *****
“Vilde Frang plays the first and fifth with a vitality that is fitting for the music of a precocious teenager.” Financial Times, 1st February 2015
“the vitality and sense of freedom she brings to later music is preserved in Mozart; she adopts an airy, graceful style, confining any intense sostenuto to especially expressive moments...This, along with imagining in detail how to bring out the individuality of each phrase, results in performances that compel the attention and, in the quicker movements, expose all the wit of Mozart's youthful imagination.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2015
“With Cohen’s period-instrument Arcangelo ensemble, [Frang and Rysanov] offer a fusion of traditional warmth and a more bracing instrumental style, sparing with vibrato in their solos, although not banishing it altogether. The results are fresh and invigorating, an unusually equal partnership in which the viola — Mozart’s preferred string instrument — is permitted its moments of glory.” Sunday Times, 15th March 2015
“Frang is a brilliant arrival on the violin scene...Her extrovert personality shines through in the rarely heard Mozart first violin concerto... Jonathan Cohen’s direction makes the most of the breathtakingly original textures of [the K364] duo concerto.” The Observer, 8th February 2015 ***
“Frang always stays lithe, clean and nimble. So does her lively accompanying British ensemble, Jonathan Cohen’s Arcangelo...If you want your Mozart honest and durable, without fancy frills, look no further.” The Times, 20th February 2015 ****
BBC Music Magazine
Concerto Choice - April 2015
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Zakhar Bron - Brahms Violin Concerto
Masterclass at the Verbier Festival Academy
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77: I. Allegro non troppo
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77: II. Adagio
Zakhar Bron (coach); Vilde Frang (violin); Noah Bendix-Balgley (violin)
In German with English subtitles.
Zakhar Bron is known the world over as one of the greatest of all violin teachers and an inspiring performer. Among his students were some of the best known violinists of today like Vadim Repin and Maxim Vengerov. Professor Bron has taught at the Royal Academy in London, the Conservatory of Rotterdam, the Musikhochschule Lübeck and the Escuela Superior de Musica "Reina Sofia" in Madrid where he still teaches.
In this masterclass he works on the first two movements of Brahms' Violin Concerto.
2 hours 41 minutes
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Nielsen & Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos
Vilde Frang (violin)
Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Eivind Gullberg Jensen
In her third release for EMI Classics the energetic young Norwegian violinist continues the idea of Nordic and Russian concerto pairings established with Sibelius and Prokofiev Concertos on her first album. Here the famous romance of Tchaikovsky’s well-loved violin concerto and Scandinavian poise and unique colouring of Nielsen’s concerto are presented in a rare coupling together on disc.
Danish composer Carl Nielsen wrote his violin concerto during the summer of 1911, in a small Norwegian lakeside hut belonging to fellow composer Edvard Grieg. The concerto is very close to Vilde’s heart, being written in her homeland Norway and premiered in Scandinavia by Danish violinist Peder Møller and the Royal Danish Orchestra. It is a work she is very keen to record and champion. The concerto is unashamedly developed around enticing melodies, giving it a delicacy and simplicity and conjuring up that sense of spaciousness which is so much a part of Scandinavia’s musical and physical landscape.
Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto needs little introduction and is perhaps the most famous of all violin compositions. It is also regarded as one of the most technically difficult pieces in the repertoire and so is a brilliant showcase for Vilde’s hugely assured virtuosity.
Vilde recorded her debut album with EMI at the age of 22. The recording of Violin Concertos by Sibelius and Prokofiev released in January 2010 was enthusiastically reviewed “rarely has this music sounded so tender, so intimate or so lyrical” (Financial Times) and Independent Record Review called her “prodigiously gifted”. The disc won Best Classical Release at the Norwegian Grammy Awards.
She has been compared to a young Anne-Sophie Mutter, with whom she often performs.
“Frang shows her mettle as soon as she touches Tchaikovsky’s first principal theme, inflected with dynamic dips and weavings guaranteed to make any listener sit up...Solid technique sees her through every peril Tchaikovsky offers, leaving her free to add wit to the dancing finale...The Nielsen itself brings its own special pleasures.” The Times, 1st June 2012 ****
“Frang makes a bold impression with the Bachian multiple-stopping of the opening chords [of the Nielsen]...She brings an even greater spectrum of tonal colour and expressive shading to this music than her outstanding Danish counterpart Nicolaj Znaider...and her virtuosity is second to none...[the Tchaikovsky] deserves to stand beside classic versions” Sunday Times, 17th June 2012
*** The Independent, 16th June 2012
“You can hear more extroverted and confident performances of the Nielsen concerto elsewhere, but Frang’s elfin delicacy and honest individuality are compelling. And the concerto actually sounds like Nielsen’s here, which it too often doesn’t...Frang’s lack of nostalgia – her vigour, irreverence and imagination – makes her a vital and refreshing force.” Andrew Mellor, bbc.co.uk, 27th June 2012
“Frang makes almost as much of a strange adventure out of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto as she does of Nielsen's typically quirky specimen...There can be no higher praise for Eivind Hullberg Jensen and his mellow, warmly recorded Danish orchestra than to say that they're unobtrusive but always likeable companions, matching Frang's chamber-musical sensitivies” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 ****/*****
“it's the individual moments [of the Tchaikovsky] that stand out. In the Canzonetta, her very quiet entry portrays a sense of fragility, yet before the end of the first phrase her playing has become uninhibitedly emotional...I found Frang's Nielsen quite a revelation...[she] emphasises the music's kaleidoscopic aspect, bringing out the poetic quality of many episodes...All in all, it's a most appealing performance.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2012
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Prokofiev & Sibelius - Violin Concertos
EMI Classics is pleased to announce the signing of Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang. Her first recording features the Sibelius Violin Concerto and three Humoresques and Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, recorded live with the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln and conductor Thomas Søndergård. Vilde’s debut recording for EMI Classics is a WDR co-production with support from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.
Stephen Johns, Vice President of A&R, EMI Classics, said, “Vilde Frang is a brilliant young violinist and a protégée of Anne Sophie Mutter. It was Vilde’s performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto that first caught our attention. Her special and unique voice, coupled with playing of great fervour and depth, promises a brilliant debut disc.”
Born in Norway in 1986, Vilde Frang began her studies at Oslo’s Barratt-Due Institute of Music and subsequently worked with Kolja Blacher at the Hamburg Musikhochschule. She currently participates in the Kronberg Academy Further Master Studies programme as a student of Ana Chumachenco and holds a scholarship at the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation.
After making her debut at the age of ten with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Vilde was engaged by Mariss Jansons to perform with the Oslo Philharmonic. Since then, she has been a soloist with orchestras in Scandinavia, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Baltic countries, the U.S., Singapore and Taiwan.
Vilde Frang made her debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007 and was immediately re-invited for a concert at the Royal Festival Hall in May 2009, when she performed works by Vaughan Williams and Ravel. Classicalsource.com wrote, “Vilde Frang gave [an] ego-free interpretation of Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending; the misty sounds she magically conjured added to the mystery of the music; this was playing of fluidity and lightness to create the sensation of a bird in flight. Frang hypnotised the audience and then changed mood and tone for Ravel’s Tzigane, an acidic, rugged and black-humoured display.”
Vilde has participated in music festivals including Verbier, Schleswig Holstein, Mecklenburg Vorpommern and the Bel Air Festival in Chambéry, where she played chamber music with Martha Argerich and the brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon. Vilde has also collaborated with Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet and Maxim Vengerov. In 2008 she toured Scandinavia, and in 2009 the United States, with Anne-Sophie Mutter and Camerata Salzburg in the Bach Double Concerto, performing at such prestigious venues as Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and New York’s Carnegie Hall.
In November 2008, Vilde performed the Brahms Violin Concerto as guest soloist with the Royal Swedish Ballet Orchestra and conductor Rossen Milanova as part of the ballet, Rättika, by Mats Ek. “From the orchestra pit violinist Vilde Frang gives Brahms Violin Concerto body, dance and poetry. With Frang in their blood the dancers are so musical one wants to cry.” (Expressen) Vilde reprises her Brahms Concerto performances with the Royal Swedish Ballet in September 2009.
Other upcoming engagements include a Wigmore Hall recital (July 2009), Cheltenham Festival with the Hallé Orchestra and Edward Gardner (July 2009), Bad Kissingen and Rheingau festivals (July 2009), a performance of Prokofiev No 1 in Zurich as part of the Orpheum Foundation series with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra and Vladimir Fedoseyev (August 2009), Lucerne Festival (September 2009), BBC Philharmonic and Sinaisky (October), NDR Hanover, and Frankfurt Museumorchester (February 2010).
Vilde Frang has won a number of major prizes, among them the Grand Prize of the 2007 Vera and Oscar Ritter Stiftung, a Fellowship from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust in 2007 and the 2009 Norwegian Soloist Prize. She plays a Jean Baptiste Vuillaume violin, on loan from the Anne-Sophie Mutter Freundeskreis Stiftung, which has supported Vilde Frang since 2003.
“Frang heralds one of the freshest and most vital accounts of this familiar and frequently recorded work [the Sibelius concerto] in recent years. On display from the off is a vivid sense of intellectual drive and emotional sinew in playing that taps into Scandinavian melancholy and suppressed passion to genuinely engaging effect.” Michael Quinn, bbc.co.uk, 16th February 2010
“Frang makes a considerable impact. It's clear that the Sibelius concerto means a lot to her; she's constantly searching for the tonal quality and manner of playing that will project most strongly her vision of the music...And her technique is secure enough to surmount all Sibelius's virtuoso hurdles.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2010
“The Norwegian violinist launches this impressive debut recording with a commanding interpretation of the Sibelius concerto. The slow movement’s sweetly emotional, and she marries the finale’s mix of sinew and twinkle with unusual conviction — it must be her Scandinavian blood.” The Times, 6th February 2010 ****
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Bartok, Strauss & Grieg: Violin Sonatas
One of the leading young soloists to emerge from Scandinavia in recent years, noted particularly for her superb musical expression, as well as her well-developed virtuosity and musicality.
Young Norwegian violinist, Vilde Frang brings together a diverse, yet complimentary selection of sonatas for her second EMI Classics release. The recording is available on CD and digital download from 7° March, 2011.
The youthful, spirited Grieg: Violin Sonata No.1 in F Major, Op. 8 and Richard Strauss: Violin Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18 are paired with Bartók’s technically challenging, musically complex Sonata for Solo Violin, BB 124, Sz. 117. Frang frequently performs the later, which Bartók composed as an homage to Bach, with the Strauss in concert. Vilde is joined by pianist Michail Lifits for this recording
Vilde’s debut recording, Sibelius and Prokofiev: Violin Concertos at 22, received wide-spread critical acclaim. The Financial Times wrote “rarely has this music sounded so tender, so intimate or so lyrical” while Independent Record Review called her “prodigiously gifted”. Vilde has been compared to a young Anne-Sophie Mutter, her mentor, with whom she often performs.
“Frang is clearly a new star in the violin firmament” The Guardian
“In Grieg’s youthful Sonata in F she’s feisty and poetic as the mood turns, with effortless flourishes. Strauss’s equally youthful Sonata in E billows with prodigal invention...[The Bartok is] strongly dispatched with plenty of muscle and heart. Adroit, impassioned, never shallow, Frang is the real thing.” The Times, 12th March 2011 ****
“Vilde Frang's micro-sensitive responses to dynamic, articulation and phrasing...prove a revelation in the heady opulence of the Strauss, which has never sounded so urgently seductive or expressively supple on disc...Finest of all is Bartók's fiendishly demanding Solo Sonata, a virtuoso minefield of technical and musical ingenuity which Frang negotiates with an unflinching sense of musical direction.” Classic FM Magazine, May 2011 *****
“Though Frang's tone generally appears quite light and silvery, she has ample reserves, and none of the climactic moments [in the Strauss] disappoint......In the Bartók I was immediately struck by Frang's fine rhythmic sense and varied tonal palette. Her playing has the necessary physicality for Bartók, without ever appearing forced...overall it's a top-class performance and, indeed, the whole programme is clearly a winner.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2011
“This is a singularly impressive recital, both for the choice of music - a mixed programme that works very well as a continuous listen...in which the performances are really quite compelling. Such commanding interpretations are made the more so by the musicians being ideally recorded...This is a spectacularly fine disc of unhackneyed repertoire in richly expressive performances.” International Record Review, April 2011
“Frang plays with astonishing dexterity and musicianship, putting paid to the notion that only Hungarian musicians can play Bartok with any real understanding. This is a quite compelling performance.” Muso Magazine, April/May 2011 *****
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