Johan Dalene, violin
Christian Ihle Hadland, piano
"The young violinist contiues to impress with this very passionate performance"
BBC Music Magazine
Only 20 years old, the Scandinavian violinist Johan Dalene has already been hailed as "a musician of special sensibilities" (Gramophone) in possession of "a rare fire" (Diapason), and his début disc, with the concertos of Tchaikovsky and Barber, was described as "one of the finest violin débuts of the last decade" in the BBC Music Magazine.
For his second album Johan Dalene is partnered by pianist Christian Ihle Hadland and together they have chosen a recital programme dedicated to the works of six Nordic composers; music which they have often performed and selected as their personal favourites.
"Much of the music featured on this album was written in the period when Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland were all searching for a national identity" commented Johan Dalene, "and I think one can hear those special Nordic characteristics echoed in each of these works. Even though all the music feels connected in that sense, the individual pieces are very different in style and feeling. The Grieg Sonata is full of youthfulness and charm, the Rautavaara is dreamy and mystical, while the suite by Sinding is more of a sparkling virtuoso piece. Nielsen's Romance is a youthful work which shows the composer's "lighter" side and is an absolutely wonderful little musical praline that really deserves to be performed more often."
Johan is an exclusive Recording Artist for BIS Records.
"Dalene brings bucketloads of drama, technical polish and musicality… the Grieg sounding especially winsome under their combined fingertips - full of brilliantly managed dramatic gear shifts, and always with a fabulous sense of line and architecture. It's accomplished, highly atmospheric stuff."
"Artistry of a high order from this gifted young Swedish virtuoso, and further proof that his dazzling debut album was no flash in the pan. Johan Dalene's playing possesses such palpable maturity, intelligence and composure... Sinding's Suite in A minor sounds positively newly minted, its Adagio centrepiece shaped with conspicuous eloquence. It's a similar tale with Grieg's adorable First Sonata, in which Dalene forges a nourishing rapport with Christian Ihle Hadland… a reading so brimful of freshfaced ardour and recreative flair."
"The young violinist continues to impress with this very passionate performance. Johan Dalene's dynamism makes for a delightful disc... beauty incarnate and in perfect step with his composers' various voices… Sinding's Suite gets Dalene's bow rocking right from start... while Stenhammar plumps for gentle restraint in music whose modesty is a key part of its appeal. Rautavaara's Notturno e danza sends the violin mystically floating and scampering into the skies... The final spot deservedly goes to the buoyantly beautiful Grieg sonata… with folk fiddling and rhythms bursting in, much to the musicians' relish."
"We have to admit that here he enters into the court of the greats, as much by instinct as by control and spirit", noted Jean-Michel Molkhou, blown away by Johan Dalene's first recording ... One year after the Tchaikovsky and Barber concertos, the prodigy fostered by Janine Jansen returns to his Scandinavian roots, and performs con fuoco a superb "Nordic Rhapsody". The Presto of the Suite in the old style by Christian Sinding brilliantly lights the fuse, before the Adagio moves us, consumed by a musicality as intense as it is disarming. Better than the assurance with which he phrases and adorns the Tempo guisto, Dalene confirms that, with twenty years old, he possesses a real touch. A style and a flame that mark the second of the Sentimental Romances by Wilhelm Stenhammar, Allegro patetico with exacerbated expressivity. The Andantino, burning in the low register but blinding in the high, is touching because of its skin-deep lyricism. Was the Souvenir that opens Sibelius' Opus 79 ever so ardently soulful? The dragonfly of the Tanz-Idylle, then, will almost burn its wings ... It is impossible to list the constant turns and changes that keep the ear on the lookout in Grieg's Sonata No. 1. The masterpiece displays the range of attacks, nuances and expressions of the Swedish bow. A subtle partner, the pianist remains at the service of the extraordinary personality and the flashes of a violinist capable of adorning each note or (piece of) phrase with a different intention without however disconcerting anything ... His secret? An astonishing mastery of fire."
"All of the playing here is simply stunning and I don't use that word lightly. The fast and persnickety bits are things that can be mastered by many violinists; this entire program, not. I have no idea where Dalene will go next, but I'll certainly follow him."
"Johan Dalene distinguishes himself with his direct, honest playing, without any superfluous effects, with little rubato .. and evasive harmonies. The vibrato is also skilfully measured in the Berceuse from Sibelius' Six Pieces op 79, and the articulation remains without ostentation ... Grieg's Sonata No. 1, placed at the end of the disc, is chilling and again features a violin that is dazzling in its presence and character, more earthy than airy. One could listen a hundred times to each of these pieces. Johan Dalene is undoubtedly one of the most promising young violinists on the international scene."
"His virtuosity is incredible and unflustered, his vibrato tasteful and his sense of style unerring. Clearly, here is a young master playing a wonderful sounding Stradivarius…. the sensation of this record is Johan Dalene. One has the feeling that here is potentially a once in a century violinist playing. Together with the prominent Norwegian Christian Ihle Hadland at the piano, Dalene forms a real "dream team" for the music of Scandinavia. It doesn't get any better than this - this is a CD for goosebump moments..."
"In any recorded recital, three qualities are surely essential - interesting repertoire, thoughtful programming and outstanding execution. All three criteria are met here, and abundantly so ... This is a splendid release, aided by first-rate SACD recording. I look forward to hearing much more from these admirable performers."
"A dazzling Presto from Sinding's Suite im alten Stil Op.10 sets the tone for a recital bursting with strong, brilliant tone and outstanding technique, with Hadland an excellent partner ... an impressive recital disc from a player from whom we will clearly be hearing a lot more in the future."
"Their energised, eloquent performance of Grieg's Sonata No 1 is preceded by a vibrant selection of lesser-known short pieces by Sibelius, Nielsen, Sinding, Stenhammar and Rautavaara that together showcase Dalene's fiery-sounding brilliance."
"Violinist Johan Dalene: young talent with radiant power... On his Stradivarius from 1736, he cuts like a knife through butter in the Allegro con brio of Grieg's Violin Sonata No. 1 - a more than successful masterpiece."
"His debut release of the Barber and Tchaikovsky concertos revealed a genuine musical talent as well as Dalene's competition winning prowess and this follow up of Nordic fare with piano confirms it."
"Winner of the 2019 Carl Nielsen Competition, violinist Johan Dalene saw most of his 2020 live engagements cancelled. This recital disc, taped last September with pianist Christian Ihle Hadland, gives us a flavour of just how good he is."
"Dalene is a virtuoso... but Nordic Rhapsody is not recorded to impress. Dalene lets the violin speak low, he prioritizes phrasing over shiny sound, and he engages in dialogue with the piano. It is a rarity to hear from such a young musician, and it is met with care in Hadland's hands... Dalene is a storyteller, he plays with his heart, and in these moments he has the listener in his hand."
"... an excellent recording. Both musicians have a superb technique, and the chamber music playing can hardly be closer. The two also present Nordic music at its best, as an essential part of the Western cultural heritage."
"Johan Dalene's violin sings with great intensity ... Those who have seen him perform know how he is at one with the music and the instrument. It's a beautiful sight. He has the rare ability to focus entirely on the music and the playing."
"Only 20 years old, Johan Dalene has already been hailed as “a musician of special sensibilities” (Gramophone). For his second album, the Swedish violinist has chosen repertoire close to home, with works by six Nordic composers. This is music that lies equally well under the hands of his partner, the Norwegian pianist Christian Ihle Hadland, and together the two offer a program full of contrasts, and yet with a certain consistent sensibility."
"A comet. A shining talent. … He never ceases to amaze … Christian Ihle Hadland and Johan Dalene have recorded a great album of Nordic music ... and it is a partnership that strikes sparks … The album opens with a hailstorm of fast black violin notes, which Dalene turns into the lightest of snowflakes, but still with the energy and wildness of the storm … the performers' complete loyalty to what they are performing is in no doubt from the first to the last minute of this outstanding album."
"... Dalene has a tone that often enchants, at best like a water sprite on new-old adventures. Together with the equally dynamic Hadland, he lets a wealth of temperament spring forth like roaring streams in a melancholy repertoire with the emphasis around the turn of the last century."
"Johan Dalene makes his instrument sing in these enchanting small pieces, music filled with a lot of long-distance power. He shows an excellent poetic maturity and sensuality … What I admire most about Johan's musicianship are the warm chest tones, the emotional flow and the parts when he sunbathes in the pure silence. Brilliant."