north east scotland's festival of new music

press reviews

Christina Astrand And Per Salo, Cowdray Hall

Written by Alan Cooper, The Herald

reproduced with permission

article | The Herald

Christina Astrand And Per Salo, Cowdray Hall

The sound festival that promotes performances of contemporary music throughout the north-east is already well under way. This included Thursday's Lunch Break Concert, one of a series run by Aberdeen City and coincidentally one of four such events in the BBC Radio 3 series Nielsen and the Scandinavians. Owing to undisclosed circumstances, the advertised performers Pekka Kuusisto and Simon Crawford-Phillips were unable to appear but a replacement duo from Denmark, violinist Christina Astrand with pianist Per Salo, gave us three splendidly assertive performances of sonatas by Grieg, Nielsen and Nils Gade - an appealing if not quite contemporary programme.

With the joyous dynamism of her playing, Christina Astrand captured the tuneful sunlit opening of Grieg's Sonata in F major, Op 8 as well as its fiery development section. A merry, folksy central movement was followed by a festive finale.

Nielsen's Sonata No 2, Op 35 (1912) was the latest and the most serious sounding of the three sonatas. In the opening movement, the violin was more contemplative and it was Per Salo's piano playing, powerful and expansive, that set the performance sizzling. Christina Astrand gave us a dramatic account of the central adagio while the sunnier finale went swinging merrily along till it ended crashing against a remarkable battery of repeated notes first on piano then violin.

We were transported back to the more carefree mood of the opening work with Nils Gade's Sonata in D minor Op 21. The central movement was a real delight. With guitar-like chords on the piano beneath a singing violin melody and then an interlude of elfin lightness, it had all the sparkle of the best salon music.

reproduced by kind permission of Alan Cooper and The Herald.

events mentioned
  Date Day Time Location Event Details

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23Thu12.45 pmAberdeenChristina Astrand, violin & Per Salo, piano