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When the guitar sings along

Guitarist Jesper Sivebæk has a new CD out for Dacapo Records with music by Vagn Holmboe. We talked to him about the music, with which he has developed a special relationship in the process.

What made you think of recording a CD of Holmboe's music?

"It was something of a revelation when I began dipping into Holmboe's guitar music in connection with the Academy of Music's celebration of the composer's centenary a few years back. I thought, actually, that I already knew Holmboe well, but in these works I found brand new sides of the composer, and I agreed with my colleagues, the violinist Johannes Søe and the recorder player Bolette Roed, that the music quite clearly had to be recorded on CD - also because several of the works had never been recorded before."

How would you describe Holmboe's guitar music?

"There's both something new and something old about Holmboe's guitar music - and then a fantastic sense of humour and inventiveness. The music is very simple, but I think as a musician that you have to be careful that it doesn't sound too cold. Quite specifically I try myself to open up some of the melodic passages by making the guitar "sing along" - although it isn't exactly written like that in the music; for example by using harmonics and campanella, which means that several strings sound sympathetically and give you more resonance and exciting colourings. Like the pedal on a piano or a kind of harp effect."

As a musician, what have you got out of recording Holmboe?
"I've really got Holmboe's music under my skin in this process. There's something very human, a searching and a thoughtfulness that appeal to me a lot. It's as if the music itself finds its form along the way. But to achieve that feeling you really have to plunge into the music and communicate - and of course that approach is something I can use in other musical contexts too."

What has been the biggest surprise for you in the work with Holmboe's music?
"I didn't know anything about Holmboe's folk music arrangements for recorder and guitar, but it turns out they're really fun! Holmboe was clearly in love with the immediacy of folk music. His wife was of Romanian origin, and the music was written for a couple they were friends with. It's really happy music that works very well both in concerts and on CD."


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