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American Record Guide

Joseph Magil | April 27, 2018

WALTON: Viola Concerto
SINDING: Suite in the Old Style
Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad, Oslo Philharmonic / Joshua Weilerstein, Arvid Engegard
LAWO 1133—42 minutes

Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad (b 1994) is a fine young violist, and he has much sympathy for Walton’s lovely, melancholy Viola Concerto. Joshua Weilerstein gets refined support from the Oslo Philharmonic, and I would rank this with the better recordings of the work. Like all recordings except William Primrose’s with the composer conducting from 1946, II is too slow—but it’s so difficult that it is easy to see why.

The companion piece is Christian Sinding’s perennially popular Suite in an arrangement for viola by Norwegian violinist Nils Thore Rost. The transition from violin to viola is so effective that I barely noticed the difference. Ringstad has a chance to show his virtuosity in the opening perpetual motion Presto. The funereal Adagio would benefit from some more overt emotion. The folk quality of the finale comes across nicely. The recording is very clear, but I wish that the orchestra were more forward to bring out the counterpoint better.

Ringstad plays the “Vieuxtemps” viola made by Giambattista Guadagnini in 1768.

Brilliant young player

Jerry Dubins - Fanfare Magazine | March 01, 2018

…Norwegian-born (1994) violist Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad is a rising young Scandinavian artist who made his debut with the Oslo Philharmonic in 2013, launching him on an international career. Based on this new release, which I take to be Ringstad’s first commercial recording, I can attest that he is very, very talented, indeed. If you are unfamiliar with Walton’s concerto, or you do know it but have never warmed to it, I would strongly urge you to hear this performance of it. To be perfectly honest, as much as I appreciate the Imai and Power versions, until I heard Ringstad in this recording with Joshua Weilerstein and the Oslo Philharmonic, I don’t think I realized what a really beautiful score Walton’s concerto is. Ringstad plays the bravura passages with swashbuckling panache, which is what I would expect, but the real heart of the work is in its moments of emotional intimacy, as in the closing pages of the finale, and it’s here that Ringstad plays with a tenderness and poignancy that takes my breath away. Simply gorgeous!…

…The first movement of Sinding’s Suite in the Old Style is justly famous in its own right as an encore piece and as a test of a violinist’s (or in this case, a violist’s) motoric velocity and endurance. At 1:45, Ringstad comes within six seconds of Heifetz, who crosses the finish line in 1:39. It reminds me that stunt by a pianist who played Chopin’s “Minute” Waltz with a stick of dynamite strapped to his back and a 60-second fuse burning away. He had to finish in less than a minute, leaving enough time to put out the fuse. I’m also sure that there has to be a joke somewhere about the first movement of Sinding’s suite being Rimsky-Korsakov’s bumblebee on steroids.

As for the remaining two movements, they’re probably not as well known for the fact that the first movement is so often heard as a stand-alone piece. The second movement is a nostalgic idyll, while the finale is a fast, Norwegian- flavored driving dance that has elements of Hardanger fiddling in it. The whole suite works exceptionally well on viola, no small credit to Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad who plays magnificently. His modernized 1768 ex-Vieuxtemps G. B. Guadagnini is not as large in size and dark in tone as some violas are, but it has a beguiling sweetness to it, and its ability to “speak” quickly facilitates Ringstad’s impressive agility.

My sole disappointment in this album is that there isn’t more to it. Forty-one minutes of music leaves half the disc empty, and leaves us wanting to hear more from this brilliant young player. Still, for the Walton alone, it’s worth it and strongly recommended.

More in PDF Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad review Fanfare 2018

Lively performances

Pizzicato - Uwe Krusch | December 15, 2017

…Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad can convey Walton’s desire for a deep and colorful sound with his playing that creates the necessary depth. The Suite in the Old Style was carried out with a lot of feeling and noblesse…

More on Pizzicato

Walton | Sinding

Tiago Manuel da Hora - XpressingMusic | December 01, 2017

…This CD brings together the two works in interpretations of great exuberance and technical mastery by one of the most sounding names of a new generation of Scandinavian performers – Eivind Ringstad…

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Lighted viola playing

Trond Erikson - Den Klassiske cd-bloggen | September 10, 2017

…his mature playing promises the future in the limelight in classical music…

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