Vagn Holmboe: Chamber Symphonies
01 August 2012
Classical Music Sentinel
Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) was one of the best, yet one of the most ignored, of all 20th century Danish composers. Those of you who already have the wonderful BIS recordings of all his large scale symphonies listed here [classicalmusicsentinel.com] will know exactly what I mean by the best, and those of you who don't should definitely investigate this fascinating composer.
Holmboe aficionados will be glad to hear of this world première recording of his symphonic output for the chamber orchestra format, his favored configuration. There's plenty of finely constructed detail within his music that is well suited to the lesser forces. But don't be misled by the "chamber" nomenclature attached to these works. It only applies to the size of the orchestra, and not the scope of the music. As in his symphonies for large orchestra, the same rigorous and austere construction methods apply, along with his firm grasp on multi-linear development. Combine Bartók, Shostakovich and Tubin, and you start getting a feel for what Holmboe's music sounds like. These works span over twenty years of his most creative period, and bear witness to a composer who had mastered his craft and never indulged in fads or new musical directions, and who stuck to his complex neo-romantic guns. Any fans of solid 20th century symphonic output will find something of interest in the music of Vagn Holmboe.
Although only 40 years young and small in size, the Lapland Chamber Orchestra performs and sounds like its in the big leagues. While some orchestras this size tend to sound anorexic, this one has a muscle/agility combo going on. They are known for championing new works and presenting world premières all over the Scandinavian countries. The same can be said for conductor John Storgards whose recordings of the music of Aho, Sibelius, Vasks, Panufnik and Rautavaara, stand as some of the best. This recording further enhances Dacapo's stance as one of Denmark's preeminent classical music labels.