I have long had a soft spot for Nielsen’s Violin Concerto, a very early discovery, a BBC broadcast recording with Ralph Holmes (Bryden Thomson conducted), an infectious/earworm piece – poignant, swashbuckling and capricious. Johan Dalene gives an impressive account of the solo part, his technique serving the music’s heroics and whimsy, and he is gifted a detailed and ardent accompaniment from John Storgårds and the Stockholmers, soloist and orchestra afforded a natural concert-hall balance (June 2021). The Nielsen is nominally in two movements (marked respectively cavalleresco and scherzando), both preceded by extended slow introductions.

Dalene’s confidence, poise and intelligence make for fine listening, as they also do in Sibelius’s Concerto – arguably the stiffer challenge given there are more recordings of it. Dalene journeys through it dynamically, with lucid intentions, intensity, and a capacity for narrative; and, as for the Nielsen (twice), integrates Sibelius’s extensive cadenza into the whole rather than opting for a few show-stopping moments. Plenty of character and charisma throughout both works though – the Sibelius sports an eloquent slow movement and a fiery Finale, and once again lots of good things from the RSPO and Storgårds.

I have not heard Dalene’s coupling of the Barber and Tchaikovsky Concertos (interesting that he has so far recorded composers who wrote a sole Violin Concerto) but I can recommend his Nordic Rhapsody release with pianist Christian Ihle Hadland. Meanwhile, this Nielsen/Sibelius pairing is on BIS-2620 [SACD].


Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra – Herbert Blomstedt conducts Schubert’s ‘Great C-major’ Symphony & Johan Dalene plays Mozart’s Violin Concerto K219 [livestream]