A rising star shows his mettle in chamber music

Johan Dalene: Stained Glass


The Strad Issue: November 2023

Description: A rising star shows his mettle in chamber music

Musicians: Johan Dalene (violin) Christian Ihle Hadland (piano)

Works: Boulanger: Nocturne. Bacewicz: Humoresque; Lullaby; Slavonic Dance; Stained-Glass Window. Pärt: Fratres. Prokofiev: Violin Sonata no.2. Ravel: Violin Sonata

Catalogue number: BIS BIS-2730 (SACD)

This is an attractive CD, made interesting by its repertoire and marvellous by its quality. In the first work, Pärt’s Fratres, Johan Dalene sets out his stall, with sweet-toned and delicate playing when soft, contrasting with strong, even rasping, vehemence, all done with great pacing and shape. A sense of intimate searching imbues the opening of Ravel’s sonata, before the animated semiquavers lead into warm, expressive legato playing, beautifully phrased. Dalene plays the second movement ‘Blues’ simply, doing exactly what Ravel says, and catching its quirkiness and touches of jazzy smooch without indulging his inner Grappelli (as many do), although there are some well-judged portamentos. He scampers nimbly through the semiquavers of the perpetuum mobile finale, alongside Christian Ihle Hadland’s clean, characterful playing of Ravel’s chimerical piano part.

The first movement of Prokofiev’s Second Sonata grows steadily in emotional power, the rhythmic tattoos of the development given with acerbic bite. Dalene brings ferocious energy to the second-movement Scherzo, with fierce sky-rocket arpeggios, balanced with lightness in the central section. After the graceful Andante he dashes off the finale with vigour and virtuosic finesse, and the two of them produce a barnstorming end to a performance full of colour and character. The Boulanger and Bacewicz pieces are small delights.

Tim Homfray