Vagn Holmboe: Chamber Symphonies
26 August 2012
San Francisco Chronicle
The Danish composer Vagn Holmboe, who died in 1996 at 86, boasted a long and prolific career that encompassed much of the 20th century. Since his death his music - particularly his orchestral music, which is both intricate and accessible, with a diverse range of influences that include Nielsen, Bartók and Stravinsky - has been getting the wider recognition it deserves. His three chamber symphonies, recorded here for the first time in vivid, muscular performances by conductor John Storgards and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, would be enough to make a convert out of any listener. The sleekly neo-Classical Chamber Symphony No. 1
(1951) is followed in 1968-70 by two greater and more ambitious works, the expansive and expressive Chamber Symphony No. 2
("Elegy") and the chiseled mastery of the Chamber Symphony No. 3
("Frieze"). But all three works boast similar qualities - clarity of design, melodic grace and a light-fingered yet profound mastery of the orchestra.