Vagn Holmboe: Concertos
08 June 2013
Van Holmboe’s vast output opened a door that would attract those who were looking for an entry point to the world of modern music. Largely relying on the tonality that existed before the Second Viennese School brought turmoil to the musical world, his works on this disc are readily attractive. The pounding opening to the Viola Concerto certainly grabs attention, the score written for the Israeli violist, Rivka Golani, prompting Holmboe to involve Jewish-tinged folk music.
The second movement, which is twice the length of the first, is in the unusual format of combining a scherzo, slow Andante and vivacious finale. Here performed by the famous Norwegian, Lars Anders Tomter, his big and fulsome instrument holding its own against the large orchestral outbursts. The Violin Concerto from 1979 is in the musical world of Vaughan Williams, and at one point coming very close to A Lark Ascending. Its hard-hitting moments in the first movement sit next to passages of lyrical beauty and delicacy, and, as with the Viola Concerto, it is in two movements. Almost of equal length, they are divided into very definite sections, ending with a lively finale. One of Norway’s fast rising stars, Erik Heide, meets the technical hurdles with apparent ease, and in the song-like passages creates sounds of exquisite quality.
All three works are receiving their world premiere recordings, the Concerto for Orchestra from 1929 never having been previously performed. He was just twenty at the time, and he is tempted to go through a whole gamut of influences, Grieg and Sibelius surfacing at times. In one movement, it does not make any extravagant demands on the orchestra, and throughout the disc the Norrkoping Symphony prove admirable Holmboe champions under the direction of the Russian-born conductor, Dima Slobodeniouk. Outstanding sound engineering.