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Vagn Holmboe – Chamber Symphonies (24/192 FLAC)

Vagn Holmboe - Chamber Symphonies (24/192 FLAC)
Vagn Holmboe – Chamber Symphonies (24/192 FLAC)

Composer: Vagn Holmboe
Orchestra: Lapland Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: John Storgards
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Label: Dacapo
Size: 2.43 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Chamber Symphony No. 1, op. 53 (1951)
01. I Andante assai
02. II Animato
03. III Adagio
04. IV Allegro assai

Chamber Symphony No. 2, op. 100 “Elegy” (1968)
05. I Andante fluente
06. II Presto
07. III Adagio
08. IV Allegro con brio

Chamber Symphony No. 3, op. 103a “Frise” (“Frieze”) (1969-70)
09. I Tempo giusto. Sereno con variazioni
10. II Allegro vivace
11. III Lento e tranquillo
12. IV Grave con metamorfosi
13. V Intermezzo. Chiaro
14. VI Allegro con forza

World Premiere Recordings! Vagn Holmboe’s three chamber symphonies span the period when the Danish composer immersed himself in symphonic works; they are a fine demonstration of his preoccupation with the processes of nature and the idea of musical metamorphosis. Lapland Chamber Orchestra and its conductor John Storgards focus on Vagn Holmboe’s clear musical expression in three major works that have never been recorded.

A chance to hear good works that should be better known

Vagn Holmboe, not exactly a household name, is often considered to be the most important Danish symphony composer since Carl Nielsen. His music is characteristically tonal and quite accessible. This recording of his Chamber Symphonies #1-4 offers a wonderful chance to get to know his symphonic output. Holmboe’s works written largely between 1950 -1970 (of which these are prime examples) show a use of small motives and thematic fragments as the basis for larger scale construction (similar to what Sibelius did). It is said that his earlier works show the influence of composers such as Bartók and a little bit of Carl Nielsen and Dmitri Shostakovich. I think listening carefully to these very nice and dramatic works will reveal some of this but, in many ways, Holmboe’s music is its own style and has a unique flavor. Interestingly, some of Holmboe’s students are fairly well known in the contemporary European music scene, including the works of Per Norgard and Bent Sorensen.

Each of these works is a very fine piece deserving to be heard more often. The Chamber Symphony #1, dating from 1951, is the most “classical” sounding with a most attractive and tension filled Adagio that does bear more than a passing resemblance to Bartok and a driving, propulsive Allegro assai. The Chamber Symphony #2 has a very different feel to it. Subtitled “Elegy”, Holmboe wrote this during a period of self-doubt (1968), during which he was at odds with some of his most talented young pupils (including Norgard and Ib Norholm). The actual controversies as well as the tone in the music is a near “battle” between some of the traditional sounds for which Holmboe became known and the modernism espoused by the younger generation.

The Chamber Symphony #3 is another captivating and very unique work with an interesting history. Written as a work to celebrate the installation of a sculpture by the artist, and friend of Holmboe’s, Arne Hansen, the artist’s work was actually modeled after the titles and feel of the individual movements of the musical work. This unique collaboration also resulted in Holmboe later writing a choral version of the piece and, later, the two men collaborated on a multi-media work, Music for Birds and Frogs. This piece, of the three has the most unusual structure (six movements) and a sense of thematic writing to it that exudes the visual. This recording by the amazing Laplands Chamber Orchestra under the most talented John Storgards is brilliant, lively and spacious (in the SACD format, the acoustics and presence are terrific!) I think this is an important release that most people would truly enjoy. Highly recommended!

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