Let’s not mince words. This is a great disc. The “half” concerto refers to the very early (1929) Concerto for Orchestra, a single movement only thirteen minutes long that has moments, such as the polyphonic string passage about eight minutes in, that come straight from Nielsen, and others that hint at the more personal music to come. It’s an enjoyable work, full of variety and contrast, as well as some captivating ideas, and it’s very well played–although there’s nothing especially concerto-like about it.
Now for the fun stuff. Homboe’s Viola Concerto is just sensational. Composed in 1992 for Israeli violist Rivka Golani, the thematic ideas have a distinctive, Eastern European flavorRead more (Holmboe studied Slavic music and his wife was Romanian). What makes the piece so distinctive, however, is that most Viola Concertos, even the good ones, have an elegiac tone that supposedly reflects the dusky timbre of the instrument. Not here. This work is fresh, rustic, energetically rhythmic, and wholly delightful. The piece also has an interesting form: a heavily accented opening allegro, followed by a scherzo (sound sample), slow movement, and finale all combined into a single movement. Lars Anders Tomter is the excellent soloist. This is one of those pieces you’ll play once, and then immediately want to hear again.
The Violin Concerto No. 2 (1979) is scarcely less fine. Once again there’s a distinctly “Eastern” flavor to some of the tunes, but the scope is larger: a traditional fast-slow-fast form lasting about twenty five minutes as compared to the Viola Concerto’s twenty one. Holmboe’s central Adagio affettuoso begins with one of the most lovely melodies that he ever wrote. Graceful, fluent, and full of fantasy, this is a piece that deserves to enter the repertoire. The dance-like finale ends with an unforgettable sound in which music of lightness and vigor leaves behind a final chiming chord, like a smile.
The soloist in the Violin Concerto, Erik Heide, has a sweet tone, fine sense of rhythm, and gratifyingly accurate intonation. Conductor Dima Slobodeniouk accompanies with both spirit and sympathy, and the high level SACD recording perfectly captures the music’s brilliant, lyrical, and positive qualities. It has real impact. Discs like this, full of music that’s modern but approachable, immaculately crafted and humane, only reinforce Holmboe’s claim to be regarded as one of the major voices in 20th century music.
Concerto for Orchestraby Vagn Holmboe Conductor:
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1929
Concerto for Violaby Vagn Holmboe Performer:
Lars Anders Tomter (Viola)
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1992
Concerto for Violin no 2by Vagn Holmboe Performer:
Erik Heide (Violin)
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1979
Average Customer Review: ( 4 Customer Reviews )
My First HolmbowAugust 7, 2013By Due Fuss See All My Reviews"This is my first introduction to Vagn Holmboe's music, having seen the name for years. A pleasant surprise indeed. Any viola concerto is a welcome addition to my music collection and in Holmboe's op. 189 we receive a fine example. Tom my ears Holmboe evokes Hindemith, while remaining a unique voice. His writing is ably served by the elegant yet incisive playing of Lars Anders Tomter who provides a marvelous performance. Holmboe's Concerto for Orchestra from 1929 is a curious work, to my ears the sound of a new composer exploring the complexity of the orchestra in an idiosyncratic manner. The Concerto for Violin no. 2, from 1979, shows how Holmboe's voice developed from his early effort in the Concerto for Orchestra. Here Holmboe's voice has cohered into a tight formal unity. Erik Heide is superb and Dima Slobodeniouk leads his orchestra with fastidious attention to dynamics and balance. The engineering is excellent as well."Report Abuse
Exciting world premiere recordingsJune 20, 2013By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"Vagn Holmboe's 2nd Violin Concerto deserves to be included in the same group of 20th Century violin concertos as those by Sibelius, Nielsen, Prokofiev, Walton, Berg, Stravinsky and Bartok. The Viola Concerto has much less company, but this is an impressive work as well. The soloists on this exciting new DaCapo release are truly excellent. Violinist Erik Heide and violist Lars Anders Tomter both shine, and they're given superb support by the Norrkoping Symphony under conductor Dima Slobodeniouk. The orchestra has its own moment to shine in Holmboe's Concerto for Orchestra, a work by the 20-year old composer that has never been performed before now. This brass-heavy neo-classical work has a sound of its own that I really like, though it's much less technically assured than the violin and viola concertos which show the mastery of orchestration Holmboe attained after fifty more years of composition. All the works on this splendid CD are world premiere recordings. DaCapo gives the entire project the highest level of production values, from engineering to packaging design. The solid slipcase, the liner notes by Jens Cornelius, the artwork, the recording and production, the performances and the album concept: everything is deluxe, and all in support of some of the most exciting new music I've heard in years."Report Abuse
Unabashed neo-classical richnessJune 3, 2013By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA)See All My Reviews"Danish composer Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) remained true to himself, throughout his career, writing the music he wanted to with little regard for academic fashion. While generally neo-classical in style, his music has a distinctive individuality to it -- as this collection proves. These three concertos span a half-century, yet they collectively form a homogeneous program. <br />
,br> While this release is available as a download, I highly recommend the SACD version -- especially if you have an SACD player. These performances were lovingly recorded by DaCapo, and the fullness of the sound adds an extra dimension to these appealing works."Report Abuse