Tor Aulin was best known as a violinist. He toured for 20 years with his own string quartet, and later served as concertmaster of the Swedish Royal Opera Orchestra. During his touring years, Aulin composed his three violin concertos.
Aulin often performed with his fellow countryman, Wilhelm Stenhammar. Like his colleague, Aulin wrote in a Brahmsian late-Romantic style.
His 1889 Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor is an early work, and the influence of Brahms is close to the surface. Aulin’s second concerto, completed in 1892, has a more original voice.
Aulin seems surer in his handling of the material, and there’s a more pronounced use of folk idioms.
Aulin’s final concerto was premiered in 1896. It shows further development in the composer. The harmonies are more sophisticated, as is the solo violin part. This was music written by a true master of the violin.
Violinist Ulf Wallin performs these concertos with a modern sensibility. Vibrato is used sparingly, keeping the melodic lines clean and easy to follow. Wallin brings out the emotional intensity of the music without going over the top.
As a result, these concertos don’t sound like relics of a bygone age. Instead, they sound like well-crafted works that are still relevant today. Which is how I enjoyed them.
Tor Aulin: Violin Concertos Nos. 1-3
Ulf Wallin, violin
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra; Andrew Manze, conductor