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.