»The violin had got me completely under its spell; for ten years it was my greatest wish to become a great violin virtuoso …«, confessed Finland’s national composer Jean Sibelius in later years. Although he began a career as a violin virtuoso too late, as a composer he profited enormously from his intimate knowledge of the instrument and the possibilities it offered. This is particularly apparent in his Violin Concerto with its wonderful synthesis of virtuosic expression and technical bravura, its classical symphonic form, its outward effects and inner substance.
This late-Romantic, brilliantly coloured work is certainly one of the most rewarding for every soloist. A specialist in the field of 19th-century bravura pieces and master of an effortless technique and suppleness, the great American violinist Ruggiero Ricci certainly possessed all the requirements for a brilliant performance of this concerto. And Øivin Fjeldstad is the perfect partner for Ricci in more ways than one in this wonderfully lively recording: thanks to his training as both a conductor and a violinist, he ensures a perfect balance between soloist and orchestra; and as a Norwegian he is, of course, completely au fait with Scandinavian repertoire, and guarantees – both here and in other recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra – a truly nordic touch.