Tor Aulin: Violin Concerto No.3
Although his output as a composer is small, Tor Aulin (1866-1914) wrote three fantastic violin concertos. After working as a conductor and professional violinist, Aulin composed his Third Violin Concerto in 1896. By this point in his life, Aulin had become physically ill and found it difficult to perform for long periods of time, which is perhaps why he composed his three violin concertos in just seven years.
Cast into three movements, Aulin’s Third Violin Concerto offers a flavour of Sweden like never heard before from the composer.
Movement I – Molto moderato
The expansive opening movement is a fantastic example of Aulin’s demanding but not flamboyant solo writing. As the violin find its feet within the orchestra, the themes push ahead with many starting with the soloist and being passed to sections of the orchestra. The distinctive Nordic flair in the movement is evident throughout, with Aulin’s bold writing being showcased. The themes are intricate, which has become something the composer is remembered for. Everything has a musical purpose and this is true for this opening movement. Aulin’s rich textures hail to his Romanticism roots, with the harmonic language perhaps harking back further in time. The movement concludes full orchestral chords.
Movement II – Andante con moto
The lyrical central movement is colourful in harmony and timbre and was heavily influenced by the stylings of Max Bruch. The rich solo line is accompanied by warm strings as the theme is explored. Aulin’s Nordic inspirations once again stand at the forefront of this movement. Highly engaging throughout, this movement is expressive for the soloist and shows the composer’s demanding musical style.
Movement III – Finale
The finale movement, an homage to Jean Sibelius, is full of life and energy that hasn’t been heard yet. The jovial melodies are intertwined to create a fizz of excitement throughout each section of this movement. Aulin once again explores the relationship between the soloist and the orchestra as lyrical interludes interrupt the galloping melodies. Rich textures and intricate melodies build together to create effective climaxes that involve the whole orchestra. The folk-tune theme shows off the capabilities of the violin, and during corners of this movement we edge into a flamboyant solo part, but it never quite grows into fruition. The fiery coda section is full of excitement, which leads to an ominous violin cadenza that leads to the rousing finish.
Ⓒ Alex Burns